How do medical tablet PCs differ from iPads in healthcare applications?
When someone argues that an iPad can run the same application as a certified medical computer they are most likely correct to some limitation. Below is a summary of some basic and critical differences between a consumer grade iPad and Medical Tablet PC.
1. Medical Tablet PCs are generally EN/UL 60601 certified. There has recently been a mandate that all medical computers have the latest 4th edition certification which requires stricter design rules to protect patients and medical equipment from electronic interference. Prior to this latest 4th edition mandate some consumer grade products have passed but this will no longer be the case. More information about 4th edition certification can be found on Teguar’s website here.
2. An iPad does not have anti-microbial properties as a medical tablet pc does. Medical grade computers have special nano-silver particles embedded into the plastic or special coatings on the glass and housing. If users add any type of protective housing on the iPad to make it “rugged” and blood spills on the device, it will be very difficult to clean every nook and cranny. Teguar’s Medical devices are designed to eliminate these small gaps wherever possible as well as prevent the spread of infection.
3. Water and dustproof requirements known as IP (Ingress Protection) ratings are also pretty common on Medical Tablet PCs so you can regularly wipe down and sterilize the tablet without damaging the product. You can determine the scale of your IP rating from Teguar’s website.
4. Medical grade plastics and other materials are used so that healthcare tablet PCs can withstand cleaning chemicals throughout the day. A majority of plastics and metals will degrade over time from all the strong chemicals used in standard medical wipes. If plastics/adhesives start to breakdown they can chip away leaving sharp edges which then exposes a risk to cuts or choking hazards to children.
5. Security is very critical and mandated in the medical field so medical tablet PCs typically are equipped or have options to be upgraded with approved fingerprint readers, NFC/RFID, or MSR/SCR embedded modules for a secure login. An iPad could have some of these add on features which don’t fit properly, can be tampered with, and easily removed.
6. Durability is key to run a smooth operation. Medical tablet PCs are typically designed to withstand dust/water, accidental drops, constant tapping and banging around. For example, you can find an IP67, 1.2M drop resistant, MIL-STD-810G compliant specs on Teguar’s product line. Simply compare these specs to a consumer product like the iPad and notice the difference.
7. Reliability is important for any product you use. Teguar’s medical tablet PCs can save businesses money through durability in multiple ways. The longer life cycle will provide the client the same platform for 5-7 years or even longer so you don’t have to retrain staff, or refresh hardware and software efforts. The battery is removable and/or hot-swappable giving you the ability to keep the product up and running 24/7 throughout shifts. Otherwise, you would need to keep some spare iPads sitting around and set the iPads on a charger for hours to fully recharge.
8. Options and accessories are that are designed by the manufacture for reliability, security, expansion, & customization are found with Medical Tablet PCs. An example would be a docking station with proper security, I/O/s for additional peripheral connections, and a multi-bay charging station. Most of the accessories for an iPad are made by a 3rd party so you would have to rely on them for solving any issues you encounter. This can be problematic as your a software update for the iPad could brick your accessory that communicates with a 3rd party proprietary connector.
About the Authors:
Tom Poplawski has more than 14 years of engineering and design experience in the computer hardware field. He currently works as Product Manager at Teguar Computers and holds a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology from Purdue University. When he is not thinking hard about how to build better computers, he enjoys outdoor activities, photography, traveling the world, and finding the best restaurants in town.