CIOs and other technology decision makers must feel like they’re shooting at a moving target when selecting hardware devices for doctors and nurses to use at the point of care. Faced with ever-evolving technology and ever-changing user preferences, picking a “standard” device is often difficult, if not impossible.

“If I ask clinicians what they need, they tell me they want a computer with a 50-inch high-resolution screen and unlimited battery life that fits in the palm of their hand. I don’t know how to make that happen,” jokes David House, vice president and CIO at Baptist Health, Little Rock, Ark.

Baptist Health has some 3,500 “workstations” at its seven hospitals that use a wide variety of hardware and software, House says. And that makes maintenance a nightmare. So Baptist is slowly moving toward a thin client approach. Gradually, more clinicians are accessing applications that reside on servers by using low-cost PCs and other devices serving as thin clients.

Some hospitals that are just starting to phase in electronic health records, however, are attempting  to simultaneously phase in standard hardware as well. For example, 60-bed Bates County Memorial Hospital in Butler, Mo., will primarily use tablet computers paired with its new EHR, says Daniel Cook, a hospital employee with the title “I.T. consultant.”  The tablets were a perfect fit for many reasons, Cook says. One key factor, he says, is that they include a built-in bar code reader for use with the hospital’s emerging medication administration program.

To read a feature story on selecting point-of-care hardware, click here.

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