Panasonic's rugged Toughbook CF-H2 Healthcare Tablet at the hospital bedside

Greater efficiency in the emergency centre and better patient safety. 

Several years ago, Marcus Larsson, a surgeon at Helsingborg General Hospital, initiated a project with the aim of making doctors' clinical preparation and follow-up work more efficient. Thanks to the Toughbook CF-H2 Healthcare tablet, he now has access to "medical records on his lap" and can carry out his work in a simpler and more flexible way - something which even the patients benefit from. 

A project to deploy Panasonic's Toughbook CF-H1 tablet in Helsingborg General Hospital - one of the largest hospitals in the Skåne region - was started several years ago. Marcus explains: 

"I was a relatively early adopter of an electronic calendar for personal use and saw the potential that mobile online tools could have within my profession. Imagine how much easier our working lives would be if my colleagues and I each had a personal MCA (Medical Clinical Assistant) adapted to our work routines, connected to our central records system, available whenever and wherever we need to do our jobs. "As a rule there generally aren't enough computers or access to workstations that are connected to the records system. There are often several people who have to share and a lot of time is wasted looking for a free computer, logging on and logging off."

Needs vary during the day and it isn't always possible to plan access because something could always come up. According to Marcus, surgeons also act as consultants.

"I'm often asked about cases and expected to give advice on patients other than my own. In situations like that, it's really useful to be able to go online via the Toughbook tablet. I can use it to do anything from reading about patients to changing prescriptions, and from handling referrals and uploading notes for the day."

There are strict requirements for being able to use computers in a clinical setting. Amongst other things, they must be approved for use in an operating theatre or the X-ray department. To function as an effective tool, the computer must be adapted for working on the move, have good connectivity within a frequency range that doesn't interfere with other medical equipment, and also comply with the strict conditions that apply to sterile environments.

Bengt Skoog is the IT manager at Helsingborg General Hospital and for almost three years he has run the project to introduce Panasonic Toughbook:

"Our task is to cater for the needs of the organisation and develop IT support and infrastructure throughout the Skåne region. It's a case of being aware of the needs that exist across the organisation and at the same time making sure we satisfy the requirements and guidelines set for the region's various activities by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, for example. The introduction of Panasonic Toughbook at Helsingborg General Hospital has been a joint project between the doctors and the hospital's development unit."

Before it was decided which MCA to opt for, seven different alternatives were tested. The computer which performed best was Panasonic's rugged Toughbook CF-H1 Healthcare tablet. This was the only computer that met the stringent requirements for use in a healthcare setting. Other factors that played a decisive part in the decision were the battery life and the computer's rugged and ergonomic design.

"Since then we've upgraded to Toughbook CF-H2," explains Bengt. "This has made it possible to use the tool in even more areas, as well as enabling faster processes thanks, in part, to extra options. The new model has meant greater functionality, a better screen and a faster operating system."

He can see additional advantages and fields of application now that more tasks can be completed straight away, without any details being forgotten. It has proved very useful in overcrowding situations at the emergency centre, for example. Here there has been an immediate effect, since the permanent workstations are often occupied by the emergency doctors. Now that they have their notebooks at their side they can work directly at the patient's bedside.

"A more efficient workflow also means that we can increase the number of patients treated without jeopardising their safety," says Bengt.

Expanding the areas in which Toughbook is used within the Skåne region.

Since the implementation of the project to boost computer availability for the doctors in their clinical environment, more areas of application have emerged at Helsingborg General Hospital. For instance, since autumn 2011, all of the student doctors in semesters 6-9 are offered a Panasonic Toughbook to use in their studies. One of the objectives of this initiative is to compensate for the lack of desktop computers. To test how the computer can work in a teaching environment, students are now able to download some of the teaching material via their Toughbook CF-H2, for example.

"Another area of activity in which we saw substantial improvements and from which we received a great deal of positive feedback, are the mobile nurses at the hospital's neonatal ward. They use the Toughbook tablet on follow-up home visits to premature babies," says Bengt.

The positive effects are clear to see in the daily home visits. The new way of working saves time, is more flexible and makes the follow-up process easier for both nurses and families, since much of the admin preparation and finishing touches involved can now be sorted out directly on site.

Marcus believes the main advantages are the simplicity, flexibility and better use of time that the new mobile working method entails. "Whenever I have my Toughbook tablet with me, I no longer need to look for a free workstation; I've got "the records on my lap" and can carry out my tasks as a doctor in a much more efficient way."