Almost all occupations rely on computers to complete a task or to be efficient in their work. It is not only used in the office setting, but also in the medical setup as well. We can now see doctors and nurses having handheld computers that contain patient data as well as medical applications that will help them render their job properly. With the advancement of technology today, more and more hospitals are now employing computers for the use of their staff simply because they would want to prevent errors in making a legal document, such as a patient’s chart. However, there are doctors that have their own handheld computer for personal use.
Advantages of having a Handheld Computer in the Medical Setting
- Medical research and education
Doctors install apps, such as medical libraries, in their handheld computers that is actually helpful in situations wherein they are educating medical students, resident doctors, and specializing doctors. With handheld computers, they will be able to present their material in an effective and interactive manner which will aid them in learning.
- Patient Care
Handheld computers are especially helpful in patient treatment. It aids doctors in ensuring and remembering the right drug prescription and treatment protocols. Aside from that, it can also act as a “sticky-note” or an electronic organizer/reminder about patients’ care needs in times where he/she is busy. Also, it can also be a source of information he needs when making treatment decisions through research in medical databases.
- Clinic Administration
More often than not, doctors who have clinics actually rely on their computers for management tasks, such as scheduling and billing, mainly because it’s more convenient and easy. Aside from that, handheld computers can also be a good storage medium for patient data; this will become easier for him to track the data of patients, especially those who are on their follow-up checkup.
The use of portable computers nowadays has several advantages especially in adopting electronic records; however, there are still issues in using it in health care. A good example is running a computerized registry where in any of the provider who has given vaccine to a child can report that certain information. It aims to help children be updated with their immunization through the system.
One of the issues is its compatibility with what the doctors use; they do not update their central database because the data entry is just too much. If this is the case, researchers and doctors cannot rely on it, especially if they are tracking the immunizations of the kids and if the vaccines used are not given twice or missed. Sharing of information is not easy for some doctors.
Most doctors complain about how electronic records are not making them efficient. The health care industry do not benefit from the transformation of computer networks if compared to retail, banking and manufacturing industries. Health information technology of today is not like an ATM card wherein you can take it to any country and withdraw, transfer funds or make any other financial transactions.
A survey from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention revealed that while 72 percent of physicians that are office-based use some kind of electronic system in their practice, only 40 percent of which meet the description of even what we call a “basic” system.
"People talk about the ATM, [but] that’s seven data elements, and they charge you $2.50 for shipping those seven data fields over. We’re talking thousands of data fields around things that are life and death," – FarzadMostashari, the national coordinator for health information technology from the Department of Health and Human Services.
His office constantly meets software vendors doing their best to hammer out the standards of the industry, which is very important to make health information easier to share. Today, the number of doctors and hospitals that use electronic records has significantly increased but it will still take years before huge amount of savings will show.
Patients will definitely benefit from better care and lower cost if the systems can share patient records easily, and this will happen if hospitals and doctors will start getting paid for being smart about information technology. But as of this moment, duplicate tests mean duplicate payments. Doctors are optimistic and believe that IT will become an effective tool for high performance and efficiency.
Generally, computers must be replaced three to four years after. For portable computers in medical school, if you have one that is four years old or more, it is recommended to buy a new one to function in its optimum use. The configuration below is the minimum specifications of a portable computer and can be used for at least two years. If your unit does not meet the basic requirements, consider buying a new one.
For a basic minimum portable computer, the specifications must be the following:
- Intel Core Duo with a processor of 2.2 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
- The hard drive must be 250 GB
- Has a resolution of 1024×768 or higher
- 13” display
- 801.11g WiFi
- Inkjet printer
- VGA jack or adapter
- External monitor of 21”
- External drive must be at least 1 TB
In medical school, most portable computers of the students pass through IT review. If they do not pass the minimum requirements, the students are directed to buy a new one immediately. The specifications described above are the basic requirements as students are taking exams which are web based.
Recommended Hardware Configurations
Medical students prefer portable computers because they are light weight and can be brought anywhere. The recommended configurations of its hardware are the following:
- Macintosh 15”: MacBook Pro with the following features: widescreen display of 15.4’, Intel Quad Core i7, 2.3 GHz, 4 GB RAM, hard drive of 500 GB, Fire Wire 800, 2.0 USB ports, double-layer slot loading SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, VGA adapter, weighs 5.6 lbs and price starts from $1,800.
- Macintosh 13”: MacBook Pro which has the following features: widescreen display of 13”, Quad Core i5, 2.5 GHz, 4 GB RAM, hard drive of 500 GB, Fire Wire 800, 2.0 USB ports, double-layer Slot-loading SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, VGA adapter, weighs 4.5 lbs and price ranges from $1,200.
There are some medical students who have a hard time choosing between Windows 7 or 8. In purchasing a new Windows portable computer, experts suggest Windows 7 Professional, has a 32 bit version and with RAM of 4GB. However, Windows 8 can be acceptable but it is more prone to troubles unlike Windows 7. Students must be aware that some computer stores sell only Windows 8, so they must look for stores that have a wide variety of selections. In addition, there are cases when students want to upgrade their computers to the latest version but IT experts do not recommend this because of many incompatibilities. If you are a user of Windows computer, you must have Windows 7 because Windows XP can be inadequate for medical school.
Today, especially in medicine, portable computers are very essential. However, they must have the recommended features to work well for your needs.