Why Label Selection Is Crucial To Your Operations
Determining how to pick the right barcode label to match your printer and application can be difficult with so many options on the market. When you use thermal label printers to produce barcode labels, the last thing you want to worry about is printing issues. Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons they occur has nothing to do with your printer. One of the most common reasons new customers come to SK&T with printing issues is that they are not using the correct labels and thermal printing supplies.
Your printer selection is important. Printing issues can occur because your hardware isn’t up to the task, you’re not keeping your printer clean enough, or your printhead is wearing out. However, common culprits in print quality issues are often because of your labels and supply choices. If you’re not matching the right products to the right labeling application and the right printer, you’ll be faced with a world of problems.
For example, the wrong label and supply combination, or the use of cheaply made solutions can lead to inconsistent print quality, problems with print darkness, smearing, fading, and even label adhesion failures.
Ultimately, your labels and supplies can make or break your print jobs, so you need to be sure you’re using the right products for your specific label application. Factors to consider are the environment, type of usage, durability needed, and compliance standards to live up to.
It’s important to match your labels to your use case. Labels are essential in so many industries today, and they need to be different to accommodate the needs of those industries. From healthcare to warehousing, to retail, distribution, or manufacturing, labels aren’t just a one size fits all.
How To Pick The Right Barcode Label – Things to Consider
In different industries and use cases, there is huge variation in labeling applications, and environmental factors such as:
- indoor/outdoor conditions
- the presence of chemicals
All factors play a role in terms of print quality, label adhesion, and durability.
Additionally, many supply chain organizations require multi-faceted labeling strategies and printing solutions designed to support different types of products that they produce or process, their palletization or tracking, customer requirements, and even the technologies they use to track and trace assets.
For example, automotive suppliers or manufacturers might need to label, tag, and track everything from pallets or raw materials to thousands of parts arriving from suppliers and finished goods. Ultimately, with so much variation in what needs to be tracked and in what applications and conditions, they may need to apply dozens of different combinations of labels and thermal printing supplies to get the right results and meet specific labeling requirements. Otherwise, labels may not be the right size for what you’re labeling, they may not adhere to the surface, they may not be readable or scannable at the right range or when you or your customers need them to be, and you could end up with downtime or non-compliance issues due to adhesion failures, label damage, and more.
It’s also important to understand that your label selection also impacts your printer performance and total cost of ownership (TCO). For example, using the right labels and supplies combinations, and investing in quality solutions will help you prevent adhesive buildup on printer parts and premature printhead failures. It will also help you reduce the frequency of label reprints, reorders, and wasteful spending.
How to Pick the Right Barcode Labels – Work With An Expert
To get the right results, you need to choose the right label with the right combination of components along with the right type of printer ribbon.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in barcode labels and supplies to ensure that you’re matching the right solutions to each job. We have labeling experts at SK&T who have decades of combined experience, and they can work with you and our partners, such as Zebra, to help you find the right matches for your specific applications.
We have some great quick references and resources to help you identify these choices, including label selection guides that help you quickly find the right solutions. But we also provide complimentary consulting, recommendations, and advice, and you can even outsource the whole label and supplies selection process to our experts.
To learn more and request a label and supplies selection guide or get professional assistance, contact our team at SK&T for more expert advice and specific recommendations. We’d be glad to help!
Low-Quality Barcode Labels and Supplies
If you’re having problems with downtime in your barcode labeling, scanning, and tracking operations, there’s a good chance it’s due to low-quality barcode labels or a mismatch of the wrong supplies with your environment or application.
This is why it’s important to understand how your barcode label, printer ribbon, and other supplies can negatively impact your barcode scanning and tracking operations.
As a leading supplier of barcoding technologies and solutions, we’ve helped many companies avoid some of the common label and supply issues that can cause the following problems:
- Frequent workflow disruptions or stop-ships
- Labels falling off or becoming unreadable
- Slowdowns and waste due to re-labeling
- Premature and expensive printhead failures
- Fines or lost business due to labeling non-compliance
Avoiding these headaches starts with choosing the right barcode labels and supplies for your specific use case, label application, and environment. One of the most important things to know is buying cheap, low-quality labels and supplies will almost always lead to these problems.
Cheap, low-quality labels and printing supplies are made with substandard and inconsistent materials not matched to your specific application and usage requirements, so they cause problems with print quality, label adhesion, and label durability. The wrong labels or supply combination will wear out your printheads faster or damage your printheads and printers.
Also, while barcode labeling seems like a simple and straightforward proposition, there are thousands of different label types, materials, and supplies combinations with different matches for specific use cases and applications. The right label materials, adhesives, and other characteristics need to be matched to each job and to the right printer to ensure label adhesion, durability, and scannability in your labeling and usage environment.
The right labels will also protect your valuable printheads and help you get more life out of your printer because they’re made with high-quality materials that minimize printhead and printer wear, while cheaper and lower-quality labels are typically made with more abrasive materials that can cause a lot of wear and damage over time.
To find the right labels and supplies for your application, it’s usually a good idea to work with a certified label and supplies expert such as our team members at SK&T. This saves time and effort for your procurement, IT, or other team members because there are a lot of factors to know and consider when selecting the right solutions.
When identifying and recommending the right labels and supplies, we typically focus on a number of key factors:
1. Label Adherence
Label adhesive performance can vary based on the surface type and shape, so we take a look at these and recommend labels that are designed, pretested, and certified to adhere directly to your specific surfaces and materials. This way, you can be confident that the labels you affix to your products, packages, or pallets will remain secured for years.
2. Print and Label Durability
Each thermal label material and ribbon has different resistance levels to temperature, environment, and water or other chemicals, so it can be hard to know which label will tolerate various elements. Our experts have extensive knowledge and resources that help us confirm whether or not a label will endure exposures or contacts with certain chemicals, fluids, radiation, weather elements, and more. This allows us to recommend a proven solution that will deliver great durability under your specific conditions.
3. Printhead and Printer Protection
The hidden, long-term cost of many barcode labels is the amount of wear they cause to your printheads and your printer. The wrong labels and supplies or combination can cause excessive wear and more frequent printhead replacement or printer servicing and repair, which can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.
To minimize wear and eliminate printhead replacement costs, our experts recommend Zebra labels and supplies paired with Zebra printers and matched with your specific application. This ensures you get the best-quality and highest-performance labels and supplies, which maximizes your printhead and printer life. Also, if you use Zebra printers and sign up for Zebra’s Printhead Replacement Program, agreeing to use Zebra supplies exclusively, when your printheads eventually need routine replacement, they’ll be provided at no cost to you.
4. Label Compliance Requirements
It’s not always easy to confirm which labels are suitable for use on electronics, food and beverage items, medical devices, automobile components, and other products where ID labels are required to have special markings. Our labeling experts quickly identify which labels are compliant for your purposes, whether you need to meet UL/cUL, FDA 175.105, UID, Globally Harmonized System (GHS), Unique Device Identification (UDI), GM 14573, or other standards.
5. Label Quality and Authenticity
This isn’t broadly advertised, but many labels and printing supply manufacturers substitute materials when they produce labels, ribbons, and other components. This can severely and negatively impact the quality and performance of your labels, so ensuring consistency is another reason why we work with Zebra to provide our customers with top-quality labels and supplies. Zebra never substitutes materials or ribbon formulations once they’re specified for a given application, so you always get the exact same supplies at the exact same quality, and they’re ISO 9001:2015 certified via strict quality control processes to ensure reliable, consistent performance.
These are the core factors we typically review and consider when recommending labels and supplies to eliminate downtime and ensure smooth, uninterrupted printing, labeling, and scanning.
To learn more about how to avoid scanning and tracking downtime and to get help with finding the right labels and supplies for your needs, contact our team at SK&T for more expert advice and specific recommendations. We’d be happy to help.
Every business wants to get the longest life and the most performance out of every piece of equipment, including the barcode label printers you use every day. Ideally, you just want your label printer to work and keep working forever, without any headaches or hassles.
Nevertheless, even the most durable and high-performance printers have a limited lifespan. Over time your printers can start to wear out or break down. Even if your printers are running strong, maybe you need more for your operations. If your business needs have grown, maybe you need faster print speeds or higher security to protect against cyber threats.
Ultimately, even if you keep your label printers serviced and well-maintained, there comes a time when they need to be replaced.
Here are six big issues you can prevent by being proactive and replacing your barcode label printers before they start to negatively impact your work.
As printers age and near the end of their life cycle, they typically start requiring more preventive maintenance, servicing, and repair. This means you have to take them offline, and they might even need to be shipped to a depot repair center for work. You could be looking at short or potentially prolonged downtime and interruptions of your labeling processes.
You can work around this to a point, however, the most efficient and cost-effective solution is to replace aging printers before they become an issue. Your printers should seamlessly work in the background of your operations. If you’re taking time and staff energy to swap out printers, send them out for repairs, and wait for their return, it might be time to consider an upgrade.
2. Workflow Disruptions
Whether your labeling operations are slowed down to send a printer for servicing or you’re having problems with reprint labels because of worsening print quality issues, there are many ways that your aging and poorly performing printers can disrupt your workflows.
Every time you have to reprint a label, it means time and money is taken away from something else. Every time a poorly printed label gets through and applied, it’s a potential problem that could lead to a failed scan or the inability to read the label.
In either case, it’s lost time. As this keeps happening, it quickly adds costs to your bottom line through wasted and unnecessary labor.
Before your aging printer starts disrupting your workflows, make sure you’ve been doing the right servicing and cleaning and keep your printheads replaced. If you’re doing all the right things but you’re still having problems, it’s time to work with us to find a long-term solution.
3. Missed Shipments
As we mentioned above, print quality can become a significant problem when using an aging barcode label printer. If a barcode or label is printed incorrectly, it may not be scannable or readable. The ability to read and scan a label correctly is crucial for avoiding missed or lost shipments.
There’s no margin for error when it comes to barcoding and tracking at a time when fast, accurate and on-time deliveries are more important than ever. To keep your shipments moving and ensure that they can be tracked and traced from end to end, you need to keep your printheads and printers in excellent shape.
If your printer isn’t keeping up anymore and is causing issues, and it’s not simply a worn or damaged printhead, then get repairs made or replace your printer to prevent similar problems from recurring.
As print quality and printer performance begin to suffer from worn-out hardware, so do your labeling operations’ efficiency and cost savings. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself having to reprint labels because of a jam, a label coming out blurred or faded or inconsistent. This quickly adds up to wasted labels and printing supplies or printer ribbons.
If you’re starting to see this kind of waste and it’s not an issue with needing to clean your printer or replace a printhead, it might be time to replace your printing device itself. If needed, reach out to SK&T for a free consultation. We’ll help you decide if a replacement is needed or if your problems can be addressed with a repair or other fix.
5. Compliance Issues
In industries and applications where clear, readable, and scannable labels are critical for meeting compliance requirements, there is no room for poor printing or other labeling issues. If a label can’t be read or scanned, You may run into the following problems:
- Unable to trace back to the manufacturer for recall
- Missing safety information
- Incorrect color-coding
- Faded or misprinted warning icons
Issues such as these can result in dangerous risks for customers and costly compliance violations for manufacturers and other entities responsible for proper labeling. To ensure compliance, address printing issues promptly. Examine whether servicing or repair might be warranted, and replace printers if they are no longer able to get the job done correctly and perfectly every time.
One common denominator in the above problems is the unnecessary costs added to your business. Sometimes the disrupted workflows can be easy to overlook, especially if you’re not regularly dealing with reprint labels or struggling with the poor print quality and scanning issues. If it’s not your workflow being disrupted, you might not be immediately aware of what’s going on.
Every bit of downtime, disruption, waste, and printer-related problems is a drain on time, resources, and costs. Sometimes costs will be quite clear and impossible to ignore, especially if a label printing problem leads to a lost or misidentified asset or shipment to a vital customer, or to a compliance failure.
Be sure to monitor your printer usage and use printer management tools to track and identify problems. Consult with the people using your printers and involved in labeling operations to find out if printing issues are getting in the way of their jobs.
The last thing you want to do is wait for problems to become so severe they cost you more than the price of a new printer. It’s better to stay on top of things, be proactive, and make a preemptive investment in a new printer when it will save you hassles, risks, and costs in the long run.
If your printers are aging and are starting to cause problems or are at the risk of creating them, connect with our team at SK&T for information on some of the latest devices, the newest features and capabilities, and how to save money by trading in your old equipment.
In fact, with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program, you can save up to $650 per device when you trade in your qualifying old equipment, including non-Zebra devices, and upgrade to Zebra’s next-generation and top-quality label printers.
To learn more, contact us now at 720.851.9108. We’d be happy to help!
One of the biggest lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the need to ease the burden on our healthcare providers, not just by trying to keep them safe and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, but by doing whatever we can to make their job easier.
One way that our team at SK&T has been helping healthcare systems do that is by further automating and mobilizing all the mission-critical workflows that go into patient care.
There are many ways we can do this and build on previous efforts to streamline, digitize, and optimize care delivery for better efficiency and better patient outcomes. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few quick examples, how they work, and how they help our healthcare providers can get more done with less effort and stress.
Arguably the best strategy for minimizing the burden on our healthcare providers is to equip nurses, physicians, and staff with mobile computing technologies and smart badges so they can quickly and securely access EMRs and patient records, communicate in real-time and manage and coordinate care, all with touch-enabled workflows that save time and effort at every stage.
A good example is Zebra’s TC52-HC healthcare mobile computer, which is an Android touch screen device that delivers octa-core processing power, high-speed Wi-Fi, and access to EMRs, alerts, voice, secure texting, and other tools at lightning speed. Devices like these are a great way to save time and effort by making mobile workflows as intuitive, seamless, and efficient as possible.
When the TC52-HC is paired with a smart badge and single sign-on software, staff can simply tap their badge to authenticate their identities and start securely using all the apps they need, even on a device that’s disinfected and shared with other staff on the next shift. The next user can simply tap their badge with the same integration, and the previous user is automatically signed out, and they’re signed in and can get to work right away.
Another simple way to make life and work a bit easier, especially for busy nurses and technicians, is to switch from traditional barcode scanners to small, compact, and wearable companion scanners. Devices such as Zebra’s CS60-HC healthcare companion scanner are small, lightweight, yet durable devices that nurses or technicians can place in a pocket or wear on a lanyard.
Despite their small size, these devices capture virtually any 1D or 2D barcode in any condition, even if a barcode is smudged, dirty, or poorly printed. They also easily pair wirelessly via Bluetooth with other devices such as mobile computers. This makes them great for nurses or technicians on the go because they can be freed from carrying cumbersome devices or having to rely on carts and mobile workstations to wheel devices around.
C60-HC scanners are also the first of their kind to offer a corded option as well. If you prefer, you can switch them from wireless to corded by simply connecting them to other devices with an optional USB cable. This means you can use these mini devices as a hands-free presentation scanner on a cart or workstation and not just as a handheld device.
Of course, since they’re designed for healthcare, they’re also made with disinfectant-ready plastics and a physical design that helps eliminate places where germs can potentially hide. They also have patient-friendly day and night modes, with options to choose between audible or haptic vibration for scanning feedback, and Zebra’s Direct Decode Indicator projects illumination onto the barcode to make sure it can be read in dim conditions.
Another way to simplify workflows for healthcare providers is to streamline admissions and help eliminate errors in patient care, medication, and specimen tracking by creating more automated identification and tracking systems.
You can do this with basic components such as barcoded patient ID wristbands and barcoding scanning, but you can also get more sophisticated by deploying mobile apps that help automate your specimen and medication tracking, a chain of custody, and your pickups and deliveries for labs and pharmacies. These days, there are proven healthcare apps for streamlining and error-proofing everything from medication tracking to supplies management and medical courier operations, so now is an ideal time to explore options and look for every area where you can leverage these solutions to reduce or eliminate manual and labor-intensive processes.
Some hospitals are taking technology a step further by using RFID to wirelessly track patients and their locations as they move through the admissions process and toward emergency surgeries where timing, coordination, and accurate patient identification are crucial.
Providers and staff can be automatically alerted to the status and location of incoming patients, even before they arrive at the hospital and then at key checkpoints along the way, using RFID readers and antennas that read and detect RFID-enabled patient ID wristbands with radio signals as they move past the readers.
Automation and tracking strategies like these can add up to a big difference in reducing the overall effort required to track patients. And there are numerous other potential RFID applications involving tracking of at-risk patients who might wander, quickly locating and tracking medical equipment and supplies when they’re needed, and automating inventory management by eliminating the need for item-by-item and physical barcode scans to track assets.
These are just some of the ways that hospitals are using mobility and automation to reduce the burden on our frontline healthcare workers and create better efficiency at a time when it’s needed most. But there are many more potential strategies and solutions to consider.
To learn more and find out about strategies, case studies, and solutions to tackle your biggest healthcare challenges, connect with our team at SK&T, and let’s start a conversation about how our technology experts can help.
Previously on our blog, we’ve talked a lot about patient safety. But with COVID-19 still raging and new variants of the coronavirus dominating the headlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture with patient safety, where protecting patients is a big undertaking that involves a lot of processes and efforts that need to be optimized.
While we’ve been battling COVID infection rates and death totals, some other alarming numbers have been in play, and they point to how important it is to make sure we’re not just protecting patients from viruses but also protecting them from identification, medication, and specimen errors that can prove harmful and fatal as well.
For example, 1.3 million people are still injured annually due to medication administration errors. And 64% if clinicians say a patient is misidentified “very frequently” or “all the time” in a typical medical facility.
Over 160,000 patient specimens are erroneously labeled each year and lead directly to adverse patient incident. And 13% of all surgical mistakes are completely avoidable cases directly related to errors in patient identification.
These sobering and startling numbers underscore the importance of always trying to improve our patient safety procedures and systems, and one of the best ways to do that it is go digital. Ideally, we need to have digital patient identification, tracking, labeling and other workflows in place to minimize the possibility of human error from eliminate manual processes that can lead to catastrophic mistakes.
For many healthcare providers, the prospect of digitizing and helping automate patient identification and patient care can be daunting, particularly if you’re still relying on a mix of both manual and technology-driven processes and you have budget limitations or competing priorities for innovation and improvements.
But it’s relatively simple and affordable to immediately improve patient safety with what our team at SK&T calls a digital starter kit.
The Zebra Digital Starter Kit for Patient Safety Improvement
Our digital starter kit for better patient safety is centers on Zebra purpose-built healthcare technologies and solutions for patient identification and healthcare tracking. These solutions are our top-recommended choices for identification, verification and tracking of patients, medication, specimens, equipment, and more.
For example, we often recommend a basic Zebra kit of solutions that can be used throughout the continuum of care, starting with patient identification at admission and extending all the way through final discharge. Here are the basic components of the kit:
ZD510-HC Wristband Printers
Zebra’s ZD510-HC healthcare wristband printers are the simplest and most effective solution on the market for quickly printing patient ID wristbands. The ZD510-HC uses pop-in cartridges and auto-calibration to match each wristband size and make the loading and printing process incredibly fast and easy.
The printer also features a disinfectant-ready and UV-resistant housing for safe cleaning and protection against germs and bacteria, which is great for helping keep every safe, including patients and staff alike.
Zebra Z-Band® Patient ID Wristbands
Zebra’s Z-Band patient ID wristbands are our top recommendation for fast and easy patient wristband printing as well as positive and accurate patient identification.
Z-Bands are direct thermal-printed wristbands you can print easily and then safely secure to a patient’s wrist. The whole process takes under a minute, and Z-Bands are also made to withstand exposure to harsh hand sanitizers, ensuring that labels and patient information remain easily readable and scannable after cleaning.
Z-Bands come in a variety of sizes from infants to adults, and there are also Latex-free designs and options to protect sensitive skin.
Zebra QLN420 Mobile Printers or ZQ/ZD Series Desktop Printers
Zebra’s QLN mobile and compact ZQ and ZD series desktop printers are great for fast and on-demand label printing on hospital carts, at nursing workstations, and in laboratories and pharmacies.
With these printers, your staff can quickly label, identify and start tracking specimens as well as medications and match them with patient IDs and records. Zerba’s printers are also rugged and drop-resistant with medical-grade designs and flexible Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for easy pairing with other devices or to connect to your network.
TC5x Series Mobile Computers
To scan barcode labels, track specimens and medications, and run the EHRs and software applications you use for identification, patient records and tracking, Zebra’s TC5x mobile computers provide an ideal all-in-one productivity device.
The TC5x Series provides fast and accurate 1D/2D barcode capture using Zebra’s advanced scanning algorithms, which speed up the scanning process and ensure first-time data capture, even when barcodes are damaged, smudged or poorly printed.
You also get enterprise-grade computer processing power, memory, and extended hot-swappable battery life so you can use your devices for long healthcare shifts or even multiple shifts. And it all comes in a sleek and smartphone-style device with a Gorilla Glass touch screen and casing built for the rigors of all-day, every day use, with optional accessories to add additional durability.
Specialized Healthcare Labels and Printing Supplies
To further error-proof patient care, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re using the right barcode labels and printing supplies in certain areas where standard barcode labels can cause major problems.
Here are a few examples of common areas where labeling issues can create patient safety risks.
Collecting and accurately identifying blood samples is often plagued by errors during manual identification of “stat” samples that need quick testing within an hour or less.
Since many healthcare facilities don’t have an easy way to identify these samples on a barcode label, it creates opportunities for identification and timing errors. If a sample is misidentified, lost, or a test doesn’t happen on time, you can end up having to do a re-draw and re-test.
Fortunately, you can automate phlebotomy collection and stat sample tracking with Zebra’s direct thermal IQ Color 2000D paper labels. These labels have colorful “tabs” that make samples immediately visible and identifiable, and you can activate the right color by using pre-printed labels with invisible inks that are activated on-demand during the label printing process.
Blood Bag Identification
Two common issues often occur with blood bag labeling for blood banks, and they involve labels fading from exposure to moisture and blood being contaminated by label adhesives that leach through blood bags.
By using Zebra’s thermal transfer 8000T primary blood bad polyethylene labels with Zebra’s 3200 wax/resin ribbon, you can put an end to both problems. Zebra’s uses specialized label adhesive to ensure that it doesn’t leach through the bag and contaminate the blood. And the label’s polypropylene material is resistant to moisture so it remains readable throughout its use.
Microscope Slide Labeling
Microscope slides for medical testing are another area where barcode labels can create problems. Contact with stains and Xylene during testing can cause labels to fall off the microscope slide or cause the image to fade and become unreadable and unscannable.
However, Zebra has created a thermal transfer Z-Xtreme 5000T polyester label and an image lock resin ribbon specifically for microscope slides.
The labels are pre-tested to ensure resistance to stains, Xylene and other chemicals used in the testing process, so your labels remain identifiable, readable and scannable. The image lock cartridge resin ribbon is available for use with Zebra’s ZD420-C printer, enabling quick and easy installation of your thermal ribbon.
Equipment isn’t always the first thing we think of in terms of patient safety risks, but assets such as wheelchairs, test equipment, beds and other items are frequently in high demand and needed in specific locations to ensure prompt and effective treatment, comfort and care.
I you don’t know where the right equipment or assets are, and you can’t get them to the right place at the right time, your patients could end up at risk. Also, if you can’t easily identify and track your equipment for inventory and to perform maintenance to keep it in good working order, this can create additional problems and headaches.
However, by using Zebra’s ZT411 RFID printer and printing and applying specialized Silverline RFID labels and tags to track metal equipment and other items, you can locate and track required medical devices and equipment remotely.
Since RFID uses wireless radio waves to identify, locate and track assets, there’s no need to conduct a visual search or scan a barcode to confirm the identity of the right item.
By installing Zebra fixed RFID readers and antennas in strategic locations throughout your facility, you can track equipment automatically as it moves from place-to-place, so you’ll always having an automated and accurate record of its last location. And the right RFID implementation, with the right devices, tags and coverage, will ensure your solution works seamlessly, even in hospital environments.
This can save your staff endless hours of searching for equipment and help you keep everything in the right place and well-maintained for on-demand use. And, most importantly, you can make sure the right equipment can be quickly retrieved or placed in the right place at the right time to ensure patient safety and timely, proper care.
To learn more about our digital starter kit for better patient safety, connect with our team at SK&T. As experts in healthcare identification, tracking and automation technologies, we can help you determine the best solutions for your patient care needs and take the right steps to improve safety throughout the continuum of care.
Contact SK&T for more info! firstname.lastname@example.org
Adoption of mobile technology continues to accelerate across the healthcare sector, with more and more organizations choosing to equip as many caregivers and staff as possible with mobile devices. Two goals are driving this transformation. First, of course, is the desire to ensure the right patient receives the right care at the right time by connecting caregivers to the data and resources they need in real time. Second, mobile solutions can help healthcare organizations streamline workflows to save both time and money.
But what about the devices they’re choosing to do the job? Can consumer-grade smartphones really match the performance and ROI of enterprise-class mobile computers over the long haul?
The short answer is no, healthcare providers should not expect consumer-grade devices to deliver the performance and value they need. Instead, most providers should focus their mobile solutions on enterprise-class devices that are purpose-built for healthcare applications.
So, what’s the difference between consumer and enterprise devices? Let’s take a brief look at three factors.
1. Enterprise-class devices have a much longer service life.
We’re all familiar with the frequent upgrade cycles of consumer smartphones, eagerly anticipating the newest and greatest model every 12 to 18 months. And that’s no accident: consumer-grade devices are designed for short lifecycles and rapid obsolescence to drive a never-ending cycle of upgrades. But that’s a terrible fit for any device that’s used in a business environment. You can’t base your ROI expectations on mobile computers that will be obsolete in two years.
Enterprise-class devices like the mobile computers made by Zebra are designed to remain in service much longer. They use the Android operating system, with the promise of regular updates and uninterrupted support for 10 years or longer. So, instead of replacing devices every few years, you can keep pace with the latest technology through simple upgrades that are much easier to incorporate into your existing workflows.
2. Enterprise-class devices are engineered for durability.
Increased durability and reduced downtime are probably the most immediate things that healthcare organizations will benefit from when they base their mobility solutions on enterprise-class devices. That’s simply because enterprise-class devices are designed for full-shift usage in workplace environments.
For instance, Zebra’s TC52-HC Mobile Computer packs all the mobile computing, clinical collaboration, and data capture features caregivers need into a device that is designed to withstand frequent exposure to common disinfectants and is tested for drop and tumble performance, and rated for use in practically any environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures and humidity.
3. Enterprise-class devices are easier to manage.
One of the big red flags of choosing consumer-grade devices for your business is that eventually you’re going to be faced with the challenge of managing security patches, OS updates, and applications across a patchwork of different models. You’ll also have to figure out how to standardize everything from Wi-Fi configuration and update settings to display and sound defaults. That’s a time-consuming task when you’re talking about consumer devices that are designed for easy personalization rather than consistency across business uses.
Enterprise-class mobile computers from Zebra are much easier to integrate into a mobile device management system, which will greatly reduce your IT workloads. You’ll have a standardized approach to security and updates, and your IT team will easily be able to integrate every enterprise device into a mobile device management system that streamlines device configuration, OS updates, and installation of your business applications.
Don’t Compromise on Your Mobility Solutions
You have a range of mobile device options but its critical to choose carefully if you want to minimize disruptions and maximize ROI from your technology investments. Consumer-grade devices may offer relatively low acquisition costs, but they risk sabotaging your investment in mobility solutions over the long run.
SK&T has decades of experience designing, deploying and supporting mobility solutions. Contact us today to learn more about Zebra’s industry-leading lineup of enterprise mobile computers for healthcare applications.
SK&T Integration, Inc.
7385 Greendale Rd. Unit #105
Windsor, CO 80550