by Craig Long
HEALTHCAREfirst, Inc., provider of leading-edge home health care and hospice technologies, strongly feels there are many keys to a successful implementation of a Point-of-Care (POC) solution, but this one might be the most significant. I’m talking about choosing the right hardware for your field staff charged with using Point-of-Care in patients’ homes. Some agencies simply purchase the cheapest laptop from a local electronics retailer. This might not be the worst thing, but it might not be the best thing either.
Something to consider when purchasing your hardware is to look at purchasing a Tablet PC for your clinicians performing in-home assessments. Being able to hold a device like a notebook is sometimes considered more personable than having a laptop screen standing up between the clinician and the patient. Also, being able to use a stylus to check off items on a lengthy assessment is more efficient than having to maneuver with a touchpad or a mouse. Even though Tablet PC’s may be more expensive than a standard laptop, it may be worth the investment.
Something else to consider is using a smaller, cheaper device for your home health aides. In most cases, a smaller netbook mini with a 9 or 10 inch screen is all an aide needs. You may even consider using a smartphone for them, especially if your POC solution is web-based.
Lastly, and perhaps just as important as choosing the right hardware, is choosing the right IT support. Most agencies don’t think about the increased strain on their IT support vendor that implementing a POC solution can generate. If your agency has a part time IT support person, hiring someone full time might be a good idea. With laptops and other devices out in the field, the amount of IT support will increase exponentially. Also, keep in mind that once your clinical staff transitions from using paper to a POC solution, they will be more reliant upon technology than ever before. Being prepared for that might just be the key to a successful Point of Care implementation.