The lightweight H1 brings clinical data to the point of care.

Panasonic has launched a new tablet PC specifically designed to fit into the workflows of a busy clinical environment.

The Toughbook H1 is a ‘rugged’ mobile clinical assistant based on a reference design developed by Intel.

The microchip manufacturer spent two years developing a set of specifications for a lightweight but durable computer that could be used to assist with care and documentation at the point of care.

It analysed hospital workflows and consulted with healthcare professionals in the US, Singapore and at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne to develop a system architecture that would improve efficiency and reduce errors.

“In healthcare there is often a breakdown in the transfer of information,” said the head of Intel Australia’s Digital Health Division, Dr George Margelis.

“Distractions occur and that’s when clinical errors occur. But by making that information available effectively to the right person at the right time and in the right place, we can reduce the number of errors.”

Taking Intel’s reference design, Panasonic engineers conducted further research with 100 nurses in the UK.

As a result of this feedback it developed the wireless and Bluetooth enabled H1 with such features as a horizontal, rear hand strap and an integrated easel footing so it can sit upright on a desk or trolley.

Users can interact with the ‘dual function’ touchscreen with their fingers or a stylus ‘pen’ which clips onto the front of the device.

Barbara Stuttle was a member of the NHS’s (National Health Service’s) seven-person clinical taskforce which was commissioned to ensure that the finished product would meet the needs of British healthcare professionals.

“The biggest thing for me was that the engineers actually listened to how the nurses would use this type of assistant,” she said.

“They didn’t tell us how we would need to adapt to it.”

The H1 is also the first mobile clinical assistant that does not have a fan and it has a completely smooth surface for improved cleaning and infection control.

It can be programmed to alert users to wipe the screen down in between tasks and the computer records and audits its own cleaning.

Staff members log on to the device using a no-contact smart card and an optional barcode scanner located at the bottom of the tool allows them to verify medications.

The 1.5 kilogram computer also has a built-in camera which allows staff to take photos of wounds and other symptoms as they go about their work.

It can be 3G enabled and it has with an optional GPS tracking capability for use in community settings.

The H1 has a six-hour battery life and its batteries can be changed while it is in use.

“If we want to continue to deliver the high quality care that we do, we need to take advantage of the technology that is available,” said Ms Stuttle.

Earlier devices built around Intel’s mobile clinical assistant framework include Motion Computing’s C5 and Advantech’s MICA-101.

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