A Healthcare TCO Analysis is Powerful Tool when Considering Consumer- vs. Enterprise-grade Devices
Barry J. Ewell
May 25, 2021
Healthcare providers use mobile devices constantly to access information and to stay connected to patients and one another. Because of their ability to provide real-time access, mobile devices become essential for delivering a positive impact on patient care, safety and experience.
Using mobile technology, nurses and other healthcare providers can now access information quickly from anywhere, relieving some of the administrative burdens they face each day. However, more stringent government regulations have increased documentation requirements, placing more of a burden on healthcare providers – especially those working at the point of care.
When deciding whether to use a consumer-grade vs enterprise-grade mobile device for your healthcare environment, several factors need to be considered and analyzed when defining the total cost of ownership (TCO).
A TCO analysis balances the upfront investment costs of a technology option with its ongoing support costs (soft costs). TCO analysis is an effective measure of the ultimate cost and impact of technology investment, yet only 31.6% of organizations performed a TCO analysis during their most recent mobile computing deployment.1 The following are a few of the areas to consider.
Evaluate healthcare workflows, environment and applications. The mobile device needs to be appropriate for the various responsibilities and rigors of each healthcare workflow. Devices need to withstand a wide array of use and abuse that includes drops/spills to frequent cleaning with chemical-based disinfectant to prevent bacteria's spread. Look closely at each workflow and the applications and databases that the device will access. Will the healthcare workers be wearing gloves, scanning barcodes and other similar actively? By doing this analysis, you can set clear goals and expectations for the device.
For example, in the space of shift, a nurse can use various technologies to perform their responsibilities. A nurse could use a mobile device to call physicians, pagers to reach other nurses, scanners for scanning medications, cameras for clinical photo collection and computers for data entry.
By choosing one all-purpose mobile computer, you can eliminate and consolidate the technologies into one device, secure all communications and protect healthcare information. The device can save nurses time and help create and automatically save information to a patient's record. As needed, nurses can instantly retrieve necessary information from the patient's electronic record and other relevant databases. A built-in barcode scanner/imager can instantly read various barcodes, such as a patient identification bracelet, to double-check medication and track specimens.
For example, the Honeywell CT40 XP HC integrates with nurse call systems and helps minimize alarm fatigue while keeping caregivers in touch. Available with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, dedicated push-to-talk button, brilliant 1920 x 1080 high-definition display and disinfectant-ready display dock, the CT40 XP HC device is a key enabler for mobile clinics and telehealth applications.
Even better, the CT40 XP HC is built on the Mobility Edge platform. This stabilized, locked down, certified integration of software, memory, communications and CPU enables best-in-class lifecycle, OS updates and security. And the best way to optimize security is to use the most recent version of Android. That's why we include guaranteed compatibility with future Android versions.
Dependable data capture. Barcodes are the mainstay of data collection in healthcare, from patient identification and verifying test/ treatment procedures to track and trace hospital assets and supplies. Barcodes are printed on staff and patient IDs to specimen vials. Barcodes come in hundreds of symbologies, size and different surfaces (e,g. paper, plastic, polyester).
The device needs to scan 1D and 2D barcodes in healthcare no matter if they are damaged (e.g., poorly printed, scratched, dirty, smudged). Depending on how many scans are taken in a typical shift, hundreds of minutes can be saved in a day and hours per year. Devices need to be able to scan barcodes from inches up to feet away from the scanner.
A barcode scanner in a consumer-grade device was not designed for intensive scanning in healthcare environments, nor can they effectively scan barcodes that are damaged or even under shrink wrap.
Enterprise-level mobile computers, like the Honeywell CT40HC, is equipped with a 7th Generation scan imager, a 13-megapixel, auto-focus camera and 8-megapixel front-facing camera for quick, accurate reading of 1D and 2D barcodes on virtually any medium found in the hospital, including patient wristbands, vials, syringes and IV bags.
Power needs to last an entire 12+ hour shift. Mobile devices in healthcare need to have enough power to last shift without interruption. Devices are often shared among workers covering multiple shifts making charging problematic. You will want batteries that capacity for a 12+ hour shift and can be easily replaced if needed.
In the consumer-grade device, the batteries do not usually last an entire shift and manage the intensity of healthcare workflows. If the batteries are not removable, the device needs to be recharged or swapped out with another device. A hospital is faced with decisions like purchasing two devices per mobile worker to cover a shift or acquiring a sled made explicitly for the device that contains batteries to last a full shift.
Honeywell enterprise-grade mobile computers are designed with high-capacity batteries that will last a full shift and are also hot-swappable. For example, caregivers can swap out a low battery while maintaining uninterrupted access to clinical systems, vital patient data and communications
Ease of use for the entire healthcare team. Mobile devices have to be easily adopted by healthcare workers for their various workflows and skillsets. Having the right form (e.g., size, shape, style, layout) helps workers engage easily with the needed applications and databases. The Honeywell CT40 XP HC all-purpose mobile healthcare device is designed for hours of comfortable, productive use without sacrificing functionality, performance and durability.
Healthcare information security. Healthcare is among the top industries for data breaches that stem from mobile device deployment. Anyone with physical access to medical data on such devices and media, including malicious actors, potentially has the ability to change configurations, install malicious programs, change information, or access sensitive information — any of these actions have the potential to adversely affect the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of protected health information (PHI). Security includes an in-depth discussion that provides for mobile device management (MDM), configuration, enforcement, training, policy to the device's capabilities.
Honeywell mobile devices, like the CT40 HC, have the highest-level data security in their class. FIPS 140-2 Level 1 compliance provides essential security to protect patient data. And if the device is misplaced, easily locate it via a second BLE beacon – even when the battery is drained.
Healthcare IT manageability and configuration. Mobile devices in healthcare should be easily managed by IT. IT needs to be able to centrally or remotely manage the entire portfolio of devices for a myriad of activities which include troubleshooting to pushing upgrades to apps/OS, and more. This usually requires enterprise-level mobile device management (MDM) solution.
Enterprise-grade devices in healthcare typically allow more OS and hardware personalization than consumer devices. Personalization will enable devices to be configured to the optimal settings for your hospital's unique needs. Without this capability, IT needs to physically contact every device for troubleshooting and resolving device problems which translates into costly/hidden support costs.
The Honeywell Mobility Edge enterprise management tools allow IT teams to test and validate applications once, accelerate deployments, optimize device performance, simplify maintenance, and extend product lifecycle.
Dependable lifecycle for years of operation. A device in healthcare ideally needs to last 4+ years. How long do you expect your mobile devices to last? Will the newer device models have backward compatibility with accessories? When you have mobile devices that are routinely replaced every two to three years, you end up with a portfolio of mixed models and accessories. This creates significant support issues and unnecessary capital outlay.
A consumer-grade device is designed to be replaced every 12 to 36 months. They are great for taking an occasional photo, social media, email, and texting, but not for life as mobile healthcare computers. And there is no guarantee that new models will be backward compatible for accessories.
For Honeywell enterprise-level computers, the life expectancy is measured in years, not months. For example, Honeywell devices are guaranteed to be available for purchase for at least three years, be backward compatible with accessories and supported once the device has been discontinued.
Durability for demanding healthcare environments. The device you choose needs to endure the demanding environment of healthcare, such as frequent strict protocols hospitals employ for routine cleaning and disinfecting of devices to protect the health and safety of both healthcare professionals and patients. You will also be evaluating device drop specs, tumble specifications, ingress protection (IP). Without the required durability, devices will require more frequent repair and replacement.
Unlike Enterprise-grade mobile computers, consumer-grade mobile devices rarely meet any of the above conditions. The disinfectant-ready Honeywell CT40 XP HC mobile computer tolerates frequent cleaning with harsh disinfectants without damaging or compromising the device's functionality. And the CT40 HC stands up to drops and tumbles of common healthcare workflow.
Support services to keep healthcare devices running 24/7. Healthcare mobile devices need to be up and running 24/7. When repairs are required, the hospital needs a support and repair partner that can deliver fast turnaround on repairs, replacement options with preexisting software provisioning and more to provide an exhaustive 100% uptime coverage
A business with 1,000 mobile devices spends approximately $170,000 more per year to support consumer-grade devices over enterprise-grade devices. That's because consumer devices have a shorter lifecycle than rugged devices, which also translates into a higher cost of ownership. Carefully consider what implications of device failure will mean to your staff to deliver optimal care across all workflows.
Total cost of ownership (TCO) points toward enterprise-grade devices. The individual device's single cost does not determine a mobile device's cost in a healthcare setting. Instead, it is the total sum of all costs incurred in the use of the device, which includes its life span, peripherals, potential downtime, security, IT manageability, requirements in all workflow (e.g., scanning, regular cleaning), durability (e.g., surviving drops, spills, temperature, dirt), form factors (e.g., size, design, layout), support services, apps and more. It's easy to say consumer-grade devices can increase your TCO by up to 50%. Your due-diligence can save you millions of dollars of the life span of choice of mobile device your healthcare team.
At Honeywell, we focus on helping you provide high-quality patient care and supporting you in your patient-centered approach. This includes the latest technology that is purpose-built for the clinical environment. Together, with our strong partnerships with healthcare leaders, we're facilitating an ongoing technology evolution and redefining what's possible for healthcare organizations of all shapes and sizes. We believe the most innovative technology knows how to stay out of your way, so you can focus on what's most important – delivering the best-in-class care your patients expect.
To learn how to help transform your patient care through the latest technology solutions, contact a Honeywell representative at 800-537-6945.
1VDC Research Group, Inc. | Enterprise Mobility, "Total Cost of Ownership Models for Line of Business Mobile Solutions," December 2018.
Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.