Technology evolves at a remarkable rate, with an endless stream of new features that enhance performance, ease-of-use, and reliability. This holds true for everything from barcode scanners and desktop printers to mobile computers and tablets.

If you’ve been relying on the same mobile computers for many years, it’s natural to wonder if an upgrade might make sense. So, here’s a quick look at five reasons to upgrade your mobile computers.

1. When it’s broken.
Let’s start with an easy one: Being stuck in a break/fix cycle is an obvious indicator that you should upgrading your mobile computers. It’s impossible to plan workflows around disabled mobile devices, and the downtime and lost productivity alone are probably impacting your bottom line. So, when the ongoing cost to repair and support devices that are nearing their end of service begins to add up and unreliability impacts operations, it’s time to upgrade.

2. End of Microsoft OS support.
This is another easy one: Microsoft ended support for most Windows Embedded handheld devices more than a year ago. And, while its tempting to try to wring the last ounce of productivity out of obsolete devices, it’s the equivalent of flying blind, because these devices won’t receive any further bug fixes or security updates. That poses a real threat to the security of your networks and data. Don’t run unnecessary security risks: upgrading to new Android mobile computers will protect your systems for many years.

3. Your devices are holding back your operations.
This is pretty general advice that usually falls into the “you’ll know it when you see it” category. Maybe battery performance can’t keep up with the demands of a full shift. Maybe you can’t get the accessories you need to support new workflows. Perhaps your existing mobile computers are just too slooooow. There are a lot of potential symptoms, but if you suspect your devices are hurting productivity or limiting your options, it might be time to consider an upgrade.

4. You’ve been using consumer-grade devices.
Congratulations, you’ve dodged a bullet. There’s a big difference between consumer-grade devices that are designed to be obsolete in 18 to 24 months and enterprise mobile computers that are engineered to deliver up to a decade of reliable service. So, quit running unnecessary risks and upgrade to enterprise mobile computers that are more durable, more reliable, and have a much longer service life than consumer products. Your IT department will thank you because enterprise devices are much easier to manage and support. Your CFO will thank you, too, because enterprise mobile computers will generate a much better ROI over the long run.

5. You need better security in your devices.
When you consider network and data security, you should think beyond the data that resides on mobile devices and consider every mobile computer as a possible tool for hackers. An old, outmoded device is much less likely to be capable of fending off a modern-day attack and vulnerabilities could allow it to be used as a gateway to breach your network and servers. Upgrading to new mobile computers will bring your security tools inline with the latest standards and get your devices into a regular cycle of updates that will do a much better job of protecting your data and systems.

SK&T partners with Zebra to bring you mobile computers that enable your staff to increase efficiency and raise their performance. Contact us today to learn more about Zebra’s lineup of enterprise mobile computers

 

Committing to a transformation of major business processes is a big step. The initial needs assessments and preliminary system designs alone will require time and resources. The up-front costs of new hardware and software are primary concerns, as are the overhead resources needed to deploy and integrate new tools. And you’ll likely be adopting some new workflows to capture the benefits of your technology investments, so that’s another aspect to plan for. Add it up, and you’re probably making a significant investment in time, money and resources.

So, your new systems and tools better work as well as (or better) than expected if you’re going to achieve the ROI you’re aiming for. That puts a premium on training and user adoption: You can’t expect maximum benefits from new tools if users are slow to adopt them or if the training needed to put them into use is ineffective.

Fear that it will be difficult to convince users to adopt new tools is a common concern for IT departments, but there are some strategies that will help you simplify training, accelerate user adoption, and quickly achieve positive ROI when you put new tools in place.

Choose Hardware That’s Actually Designed for Rapid Adoption

The most obvious step to take to encourage use of new technology is to start with tools that are engineered for ease of deployment, ease of use, and ease of management. One of the key reasons we recommend Zebra barcode scanners, printers, mobile computers, and rugged tablets is that they utilize intelligent designs that are proven to ease user adoption.

For example, the more familiar the operating system, the faster users will get to know the capabilities of the new devices. If users aren’t comfortable with the way a device works, they won’t get the full benefit of what it can do. Zebra’s innovative enterprise mobile computers rely on the Android operating system. Since Android is the world’s most popular OS, it’s already familiar to most of your workforce, which means Zebra’s mobile computers require less training on the basics, and users are easily be able to access the functions they need.

Choose the Right Training Partner

If even one person fails to adopt the new technology because they don’t understand how to use it, it’s going to disrupt your workflows and make it hard to receive full ROI from your investment. That means you need a training plan that will guarantee every impacted worker knows how to use the new solution.

Even businesses that have a dedicated training staff struggle to develop and execute effective training programs when new technology is introduced. That’s simply because in-house trainers didn’t build the solution and they usually don’t have a deep level of expertise with the tools. This is when it makes sense to rely on external training resources, including your technology partner and the OEM. Bringing solution experts like SK&T or Zebra into the training equation will instantly skew the odds of a successful rollout in your favor.

The beauty of this approach is that nobody has deeper product knowledge than an OEM like Zebra, and they have a learning services team that specializes in a “train the trainer” approach that gives you a proven framework of training tools and support.

Involve Employees at the Start

Selling workers on the value of a new technology solution usually begins long before the hardware is selected. Nothing improves your chances for widespread and rapid adoption than giving employees a sense of ownership in the solution. It’s critical to involve employees in the process right from the start. Let them help define the solution by asking them to detail the problems they’re having with existing tools. Then make sure they’re involved in pilot programs so they can provide valuable feedback on early training efforts.

It’s also critical to communicate expectations throughout the entire process, from initial assessments right through rollout of the new tools. The key is to help employees understand why you’re making changes and how those changes align with their goals and interests. Demonstrate how new technology will make workers’ jobs easier or show them how they’ll acquire valuable skills, and it will be much easier to get them to buy-in.

SK&T and Zebra can show you how to increase adoption of innovative technology solutions that can make a big impact on your bottom line. Contact SK&T to learn more.

From positive patient identification and medication administration to electronic medical record access and inventory management, there are many applications for barcode scanners in healthcare. Caregivers work with them in patient rooms, nurses’ stations, the pharmacy, lab, and other settings throughout every shift. A scanner that delivers trouble-free results improves efficiency and streamlines workflows, but one that’s hard to use or unreliable can cause serious problems. That makes it critical to ensure that your barcode scanners are fully up to every task.

Today, manufacturers such as Zebra engineer and build barcode scanners that are purpose-built for healthcare environments and applications. The latest models are packed with performance-boosting features that can enhance productivity and reliability. They almost always scan faster, more accurately, and at longer ranges than older models. So, if your existing scanners have been on the job for a while or just aren’t delivering the results you need, here are some benefits of upgrading to consider.

Easier to clean

In healthcare settings, it’s always been critical to keep devices clean to prevent the spread of infection, but that’s really come into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since barcode scanners are often used by several different staff members throughout a single shift or shared by caregivers across multiple shifts, a key consideration should be how well the device stands up to frequent cleaning when they’re used in healthcare applications,

That’s why Zebra’s healthcare scanners feature a purpose-built housing that helps offer protection against the spread of bacteria. Some include a crevice-free surface that helps eliminate places where germs can hide, and every Zebra healthcare scanner features durable materials that are engineered not just for heavy duty cycles, but also to withstand repeated exposure to common antiseptic cleaners.

Longer battery life

Cordless barcode scanners offer a lot of convenience, but the benefits disappear if the battery can’t keep up through an entire shift. In fact, one of the top reasons to consider upgrading your cordless scanners is simply because the batteries don’t perform.

Today’s newest healthcare scanners are designed with long-lasting batteries that far outperform previous generation devices. For example, Zebra’s cordless DS8178-HC comes standard with a PowerPrecision battery that’s capable of capturing over 75,000 barcodes in a single charge. That’s a lot of wristbands, specimen labels, and medical records!

More adaptability

Over time, your workflows change; if you’re barcode scanners don’t offer the flexibility or performance needed to keep up with the changes, it’s probably time to consider an upgrade.

You’ll find that next-generation scanners are often packed with features that make them easy to adapt and integrate into your everyday processes. Cordless options really open up the possibilities to improve workflows and maximize efficiency. And simple features like the ability to mount the scanner on a mobile workstation or a built-in work light that eliminates the need to switch on the lights in a darkened patient room can make a big impact on usability. Many of the latest scanners also offer advanced options, like adding radio frequency identification (RFID) capability, that you might not find on older models.
Zebra CS60-HC Healthcare Series Companion Scanner

The Zebra CS60-HC barcode scanner is a great example of the options available when you upgrade to the latest barcode scanning technology. It offers an ultra-versatile platform that easily adapts to any clinician workflow. The groundbreaking design easily converts between corded and cordless operation and can be used in handheld or hands-free applications. That makes it the high-performance scanner you can buy today with the ability to meet new workflow challenges tomorrow.

Also, since Zebra’s CS60-HC scanner is suited to a wide range of healthcare applications, you won’t need to purchase different models for different applications. That will simplify the accessories you need, make it easier for your IT staff to configure and manage the scanners, and lower your operational costs.

SK&T has the expertise and insight needed to help you evaluate all of your barcode scanning solutions. Contact us today to learn more about Zebra’s industry-leading lineup of purpose-built healthcare scanners.

Small healthcare facilities like ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and clinics have most of the same technology needs as large hospitals, just on a smaller scale. Workflows such as admitting and identifying patients, accessing and updating health records, collecting samples, and dispensing medications are common at every level of the healthcare industry.

When it comes to technology, the big difference between large organizations like hospitals and smaller facilities like ASCs isn’t really the technology, it’s the resources that are available to manage that technology. The limited IT and administrative resources available in smaller facilities puts a huge premium on solutions that are easy to deploy, easy to use, and easy to manage.

One way to minimize technology challenges and make the most of available IT resources in smaller healthcare facilities is to look for a partner and supplier that can cover all the bases. Using products that share a common ecosystem can smooth out the bumps in everything from training to security updates and make it much easier to enable staff collaboration. That’s why SK&T works so closely with Zebra: we know that Zebra offers end-to-end technology solutions that are purpose-built to stand up to the rigors of busy healthcare environments of any size

Here’s a quick outline of some of the key use cases Zebra products can help you address.

Positive Patient Identification:
Zebra’s patient identification solutions allow you to access and confirm essential patient information from admission to discharge. In fact, patient identification is a perfect example of the way Zebra’s solutions tie everything together, from wristbands and printers, to barcode scanners and mobile computers. The net result is a comprehensive patient identification solution that enhances patient safety, improves clinical workflows, and reduces costs.

Streamline Scanning:
Zebra offers the industries most complete lineup of data capture devices that re purpose-built for healthcare applications. From fixed and handheld scanners to mobile computers and rugged tablets that offer advance scanning capabilities, Zebra has a scanning solution that’s a perfect fit at the admissions desk, in operating rooms, at the patient’s bedside, in the lab, or in the pharmacy.

Flawless Specimen Collection:
Mislabeled specimens risk patient safety and can result in misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment. With Zebra’s solutions, healthcare workers can print labels right at the point of care and perform a three-point check that confirms the links between specimen collection order, the patient wristband, and the labeled container. The key is the seamless operation that results when you combine Zebra’s mobile or desktop printers with mobile computers that share a common ecosystem—it’s just easier to use tools that are designed to work together.

Accurate Medication Administration:
Zebra devices give you the ability to scan a patient’s wristband and medication for instant verification the patient is receiving the right medication and the right time, every time. The scanners are fast, easy to use, and ultra-reliable even when scanning barcodes that are damaged or obscured, making it possible to spot errors before medication is administered.

Increase Pharmacy Efficiency:
Zebra printers, scanners and mobile devices help streamline paperwork and eliminate manual processes to save time and money in the pharmacy. There are compact printer models that are designed to fit into even the most crowded pharmacy workstations and at the point of sale, making it fast and convenient to print labels and receipts. And hands-free barcode scanners can quickly verify accuracy to reduce the possibility of human error.

To learn more about Zebra’s printers, barcode scanners, and mobile computers for small healthcare facilities, contact the experts at SK&T. Download this white paper to learn more about ASC and Zebra products.

SK&T is a family-owned business. When you work with us, you become part of the family. Our top priority will be to create an innovative solution that that will help you save money while also improving the efficiency of your day-to-day operations.

Software Connectivity

Some striking statistics from the IBM/Ponemon Institute “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020”.

$3.86 Million – Average Total Cost to recover from a breach.

$7.13 Million = Healthcare’s Average Total Cost per Attack – Highest industry cost

280 days – Average time to identify and contain

 

Nearly 28% of the data breaches in 2020 involved small businesses. The top patterns criminals are using to attack small businesses are web applications and miscellaneous errors. These represent 70% of the breaches. The threat actors who are perpetrating these crimes come mostly from external sources at 74%. Internal sources make up 26%.1

 

What motivates hackers when it comes to small and medium businesses? Not surprisingly, financial gains still remain the top motivation – in the ballpark of 83% of the attacks on small and medium businesses are financially motivated. While attacking small to medium businesses isn’t as lucrative or public as going after large enterprises, they do represent a less protected, more vulnerable target. When it comes to enterprises and large corporations, there are teams of professionals that code, program, and work around the clock to provide specialized security and firewall protection for that company and the partners they work with. It’s much more difficult to protect small and medium businesses solely because the resources are less accessible and are rarely a custom solution.

 

Every year, Verizon performs a data analysis that reviews all of the data incidences and deeper breaches that occur throughout the year. 2020 was no exception – Verizon released the “Data Breach Investigations Report” that paints a picture of the security issues from the year. According to the report, there were 32,002 security incidents and of those 3950 were confirmed breaches.3

 

Let’s dive into the report and look at some of the details. Healthcare, manufacturing, and energy/utility industries comprise some interesting facts when it comes to phishing and intrusion incidents, so, we will review those in more depth.

 

HEALTHCARE

Healthcare, for example, is targeted mostly by utilizing a form of malware called ransomware. According to Fortinet.com, “ransomware is a specific type of malware that holds data hostage in exchange for a ransom. In other words, attackers will demand a given dollar figure in exchange for the data they have stolen and are reversely denying access to your organization. In 2019, ransomware skyrocketed by 820% and is estimated to have cost organizations nearly $20 billion by 2021.4  There were 798 incidents with 521 of them being confirmed breaches. Most of the attacks in this sector are exclusively driven by financial gains and 77% of the breaches were pertaining specifically to personal data being targeted. With a constant rotation of patients’ personal and medical data, the healthcare sector is especially susceptible to attacks.

 

MANUFACTURING

Manufacturing is beset by external actors using password-dumper malware and stolen credentials to hack into systems and steal data. While the majority of attacks are financially motivated, there was a respectable showing of cyber-espionage motivated attacks in this industry as well. Internal employees misusing their access to abscond with data also remains a concern for this vertical. 922 incidents were recorded and 381 of them reported as full-scale breaches.

 

ENERGY, OIL & GAS, UTILITIES:

An interesting change occurs when you arrive at the energy sector. Presumably, due to the diminishing viewpoint of the energy and utility corporations, there is a notable increase in espionage attacks when it comes to cybersecurity. Breaches are composed of a variety of actions, but social attacks such as phishing and pretexting dominate incident data. Cyber-Espionage motivated attacks and incidents involving operational technology assets are also concerns for these industries. A reported 194 incidents and 42 of which confirmed data disclosure.

 

SMB & WFH implications

2020 has truly required that organizations need to find a way to adapt, find a way to be flexible, and they need to do it quickly. Few times before in history has any worldwide event-driven such a dramatic and drastic change as this pandemic has. Notable is the move to mobilize and empower companies to adopt a work from home movement. Many companies, including the behemoth Google, are pushing their returns to full-time in the office until the middle of 2021 at the earliest. With the quick switch to work from home, many organizations are moving to a cloud-based infrastructure and web-based tools. And with that comes more vulnerability; computers not regularly monitored by an in-house IT staff, less frequent and inconsistent updates to firmware and security software, and employees utilizing personal WIFI networks. It’s leaving a lot of organizations more vulnerable across the board.

 

If you can imagine, it is really simply an expansion of companies’ entry points on their internal networks; and the wider and farther stretched a company’s network is the easier cracks can be found and attackers can gain entrance from the outside. That spreading of points along a network is also transferable to manufacturing when you consider adding devices to a work network. It is imperative that you put into place the software and up-to-date devices that will assist in protecting your data from being breached.

 

You might recall the newsworthy attack on Target back in 2014? The attackers gained access essentially though a thermostat using credentials from the HVAC company that supplied and maintained Target’s heating and cooling systems. The attackers stole nearly 40 million credit card files.

 

If Target is vulnerable to attacks such as these, how is your small or medium business going to shore up your walls and add measures to help prevent events like this?

 

At SK&T, we partner with manufacturers that have invested great time and money into systems designed to shore up your network devices. Devices that are integral to your supply chain management, your inventory management, and your labeling systems. All of the devices that track your inventory and print your barcode labels are vulnerable to backdoor intrusions like the example made with the Target attack in 2014. The more devices you have on your network, the greater the chance hackers have to get in.

 

We work with a number of hardware and software providers that not only have provided top of the line devices to power your supply chain and labeling needs, but have in tandem supported those devices with software that protects your data in numerous ways.

 

Let’s take a look at our two main partners and the protection offered for mobile devices: Zebra Technologies has the LifeGuard™for Android™ and Honeywell offers Mobility Edge. Both providers offer extended life solutions beyond the 3 years that Google will support a device; both with their competitive advantages and special offerings.

 

Zebra Technologies LifeGuard™ for Android ™ offers the following5:

  • Aggressive regular security/patch updates: You get timely updates to address new, emerging threats throughout the term of your Zebra OneCare contract. And you never need to remember to check for updates. Just sign up for email notification and you’ll receive a notice as soon as an update is available.
  • Smooth migration to the next Android OS with the right security support: When a new version of Android is released, we continue to provide regular security updates for your current Android OS for a full year, giving you the time you need to determine if and when you want to migrate your apps to the new Android OS – and plan and execute that migration.
  • 6 – 10 years of security support: Consumer smartphone models are released much more frequently than their enterprise ‘cousins” – about every 24 – 36 months. While other manufacturers typically stop providing OS security updates the day their mobile devices are retired, Zebra OneCare contract at no charge, up to 5 years after the device end of sale date.
  • End-to-end revolutionary control of your update process: The update process for enterprise-class Android mobile devices is often time-consuming, costly, complex and difficult to track. Now you can address all of those issues with the LifeGuard Analytics and Update dashboard in your Zebra Visibility Services portal.

 

Honeywell’s Mobility Edge Services6:

  • Accelerate Deployments. Validate once. Deploy everywhere. Faster, easier, and at lower cost. Enabling versatile out-of-the-box capabilities and a rapid provisioning suite, Mobility Edge expedites development, certification, setup, and training involving multiple form factors at once.
  • Optimize Business Performance. Boost productivity and drive efficiency. Powerful, embedded tools across the platform drive faster data capture and secure, enhanced worker communications. The unified, intuitive experience facilitates user adoption and helps employees complete vital tasks.
  • Extend Lifecycle. Forward compatible. Future-proof. Mobility Edge reduces TCO and minimizes headaches with an enterprise-wide approach to maintenance releases, and hardware designed to support ongoing upgrades to the operating system guaranteed through Android 11 and committed to continue working towards compatibility through Android 13.
  • Strengthen Security. Mobility Edge provides a unified, dynamic hardware-and-software platform with built in security, and the best available future security made possible by unbroken Android version continuity, and forward compatibility.

 

There are a lot of options available when it comes to your network device security. It can also be a highly confusing selection process. At SK&T we partner with the top providers of not only the devises that power your healthcare, manufacturing, and distribution centers, but also protect them with enterprise-level software packages that are unrivaled. Let SK&T take a look at your setup, consult with our providers, and put together a complete package to seamlessly manage your devices and keep your network secure.

 

 

 

 

Resources:

  1. https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/05/small-business-data-breaches-2020.html
  2. https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/dbir/
  3. https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/executivebriefs/2020-dbir-executive-brief.pdf
  4. https://www.fortinet.com/resources/cyberglossary/ransomware?utm_source=paid-search&utm_medium=google&utm_campaign=Cybersecurity-NAMER-US&utm_content=CG-Ransomeware&utm_term=%2Bransomware&source=Advertisement&Lead_Source_Most_Recent=Advertisement&s_kwcid=AL!11440!3!484933335510!b!!g!!%2Bransomware&gclid=CjwKCAiAt9z-BRBCEiwA_bWv-F8PqmWLqsT6-1EkFP7je8XDN2nI_vG6vW9TweWqUsZfubjGCIZq3RoCmMQQAvD_BwE
  5. https://www.zebra.com/us/en/products/software/mobile-computers/lifeguard.html
  6. https://sps.honeywell.com/us/en/support/blog/productivity/reasons-to-use-honeywell-mobility-edge-for-your-mobile-workforce
Budgeting

Budgeting

Are you budgeting for 2021? Not the most exhilarating activity when it comes to running your facility, but it is an essential part of maintaining profitability. Whether you run a healthcare clinic, large IDN, manufacturing facility, energy company/installation, or you run a utility company, it’s a necessary task that sets you up well for the following year.

I think we can all agree that 2020 got away from us in regard to the budget and keeping on track. Were there some projects or plans that got pushed to the wayside? Maybe some necessary technology improvements that you consequentially postponed?

Let’s explore some of the different styles of budget planning*:

Traditional Extended Budget

6 months or more of the year is spent investing in budget development. The figures used are loosely based on a full picture of the previous year, but because the process can take months, the results are often immediately out-of-date.

Flex Budgeting

This approach was developed to address the inaccuracies of an annual budget that leans on volume estimates and forecasts that are not based on historical data. Calculating the variable budget based on actual volumes of the relevant components.

This approach takes actual volumes experienced by the organization and flexes the variable budget revenues and expenses accordingly. This style of budgeting is based on what has actually happened versus was has been speculated.

Continuous or Rolling Budget

Each month, the budget is extended as the year progresses therefore always having a “12 month” budget in place beginning each month. This approach reduces the effort required for the budget process and therefore allows it to be more flexible.

Where does your organization fit in? If you are like the majority of organizations, you are probably viewing your budgets for next year with a tighter lens and stronger grip on your wallets.

Let’s take healthcare for example. Healthcare budgeting innovation has historically been lagging in responsiveness to the times**. The lag is caused by many different factors; use of traditional budget strategy and several different departments that typically have their own budgets and their own agendas. Many of the departments carry differing weights to their perceived importance, but they absolutely carry different needs, varying expense levels, and differing profit margins to consider. These battling departments either wind up getting favorable treatment or losing out on some necessary restocking or upgrade plans.

If these stories are resonating with you. You are not alone. There is, however, a strategy that can help many organizations in the circumstance where there are battling departments or divisions. Many utilize a centralized innovation budget**. This budget is specifically created for the purchasing and upgrading of technology and software amid different departments. It is dedicated to the upgrading of technology versus simply the essential consumables that the departments need. Each department can draw from that budget for the special needs and the authority is held by a central party.

It is likely that you skipped on some upgrading or “refreshing” of the essential support products that make your facility hum. While you have likely “made it” this year without the upgrades, it has likely had an effect on your efficiency in comparison to the upgraded materials. If you are looking to make those upgrades and request those budgetary funds, SK&T Integration can assist you with that. If you are needing to upgrade things like your scanners, label printers, RFID equipment, or reorder your quarterly supply of any label sizes you require we can help you get the necessary upgrades and refresh your stocks.

At SK&T Integration, we specialize in putting together holistic plans that incorporate all your needs. We listen, formulate a plan and presentation that fit your needs specifically, and then deliver a proposal at superior pricing that will save you time, effort, and more importantly budget. On top of saving money on the overall upgrade, consider the amount of time you are saving over a year by making your facility run smoother.

What does an upgrade through SK&T Integration mean to your business?

  • Healthcare: Imagine how much more time you get to spend with patients
  • Manufacturing: producing your customer’s biggest orders in shorter timeframes
  • Warehousing: increasing staging and load efficiency by even the smallest percentage could equate to more business, less misses, and fewer accidents
  • Retail: customer interaction is a better experience and you can create a contactless option for your consumers.

Find some more information about the solutions and partners SK&T works with by following this LINK. Or, reach out directly to our sales staff at info@skandt.com.

* “The Next Generation of Budgeting for Healthcare” https://www.hfma.org/topics/article/62571.html

** “Hospital Budget Systems Are Holding Back Innovation https://hbr.org/2018/03/hospital-budget-systems-are-holding-back-innovation

Read the full article on at ASAMonitor.org

In late 2012, an outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated epidural steroids led to 753 infections and 64 deaths (asamonitor.pub/3ez66BW). Congressional inquiries

identified a slow FDA response and limited congressional intervention due to political and jurisdictional issues. Congress passed the Drug Quality and Security Act

(asamonitor.pub/3gW3sYo) in November 2013 to prevent future actions against pharmaceutical and compounding facility events from getting caught in similar red tape and delaying prevention of patient harm. The act includes sections that address loopholes in compounding regulations and drug supply chain monitoring. Drug supply chain monitoring requires “unit level traceability” by 2023, which means tracking individual vials and packages through the supply chain as they are packaged and repackaged and ultimately distributed to individual pharmacies. While the FDA has clarified that dispensing related to filling prescriptions and point-of-care delivered doses are exempted at this time (asamonitor.pub/38Ty0Y1), the legislation reflects the regulation and oversight trend to require barcode medication administration workflows throughout health care.

Barcode medication administration typically involves linking barcodes of both the patient identifier and the National Drug Code that is required to be present by law on all drug packaging. After a drug is dispensed, the patient and pharmaceutical are both electronically identified by barcode prior to administration, which allows the electronic health record (EHR) system to cross check existing orders against the drug and dose in hand. This workflow also facilitates documentation accuracy and administration timing, both of which reduce downstream medication administration errors.

Many facilities already use EHR technology with mandatory barcode medication administration in their inpatient care areas, but meaningful barcode medication administration doesn’t exist in most anesthetizing locations across the country despite high rates of drug delivery during operations. Drug administrations are commonly recorded on handwritten paper records or stylized EHR modules designed to mimic paper charting. Both methods favor the addition of drugs to the record only

after administration. Even when intraoperative barcode medication administration is available, adoption rates are extremely low due to clinician resistance and the significantly different administration workflow necessary in high-criticality areas.

Perhaps the most important workflow difference in the OR compared to other health care areas is that original pharmaceutical packaging is usually no longer available at administration. Drug preparation patterns in the OR include single patient multi-dosing and syringe preparation by clinicians before patient arrival. Vials are commonly discarded or separately stored from the syringes that now hold their contents. Syringe label printers are more common in ORs to improve labeling compliance and are a potential solution for OR barcode medication administration. Even when workflow obstacles are overcome, however, clinician resistance remains. A recent study demonstrated that label printer use in the OR improved barcode medication administration compliance, but not until anesthesia clinicians were incentivized with coffee.

Anesthesiology has a storied history of leadership in revolutionizing health care safety. Through the 1970s and 1980s, standardization of monitoring, equipment interfaces, and machine checkout protocols had exponential effects on reducing mortality and complication rates. Creation of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), the Closed Claims Database Project, the Anesthesia Quality Institute (AQI), and the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry (NACOR®) have all contributed to our continued success as a specialty in pushing the envelope to keep the OR as safe as possible. The NACOR database has been particularly useful in tracking complication rates over the past decade, with reported medication errors appearing in approximately one out of every 300 cases (Anesthesiology 2015;123:1312-21). Inpatient studies demonstrate that barcode medication administration can reduce the relative risk of medication errors (J Hosp Pharm 2016;69:394-402). This evidence and more led to an APSF expert consensus conference on medication safety in 2018 that suggested the need for barcode medication administration in the O.R. and made specific recommendations (asamonitor.pub/2Ok8P7w):

  • Encourage and support the development of technologies that can identify drugs and directly link these to documentation in electronic medical records.
  • Develop collaborative efforts with electronic medical record corporations that support drug identification, documentation Oxford, and patient safety.
  • Encourage the perioperative practice of identifying and documenting drugs before administering them.

Ideally, EHRs are built by vendors to meet regulations and consumer demand. The rudimentary functions of barcode medication administration do exist for anesthesia modules in major EHR systems. To meet our specialty’s needs in the future, development surrounding barcode medication administration workflows and technology will likely require active lobbying by EHR users and regulatory pressure. Government and payer incentive programs, administrative body oversight, and society recommendations and guidelines have led to many of the quality and patient safety EHR features we enjoy today.

As individual clinicians, and as a specialty, we must return to our rich history to build a better system and not rest on our laurels, believing “only other people make those mistakes” with medications. Medication errors persist as a common root cause of patient harm in the OR, most being preventable. OR technology and EHR systems have evolved and could allow barcode medication administration workflows to become commonplace and reduce these preventable errors. Before legislation and regulation forces us to u

se systems not designed specifically for the OR, we need to lead innovation efforts and adopt effective solutions for the OR.

ASA could make formal recommendations regarding routine barcode medication administration use, as ASA did with pulse oximetry, which would lead EHR systems to be incentivized by guidelines and specialty demand to develop the technology for an optimized intraoperative barcode medication administration workflow. In addition, we could expect continuous improvement and innovation that would reduce barriers to both implementation and adoption.

 

Disinfecting Zebra Mobile

Disinfecting Zebra Mobile

To minimize the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not just important to wash our hands, avoid touching our face, and maintain social distancing. It’s also critical to disinfect and clean our mobile devices regularly, especially in the healthcare industry and in enterprise businesses that are providing essential services. The same will apply to businesses that re-open in the future under local guidelines and restrictions.

For healthcare providers and businesses that use Zebra enterprise mobile devices, here are some important tips and reminders about disinfecting and cleaning your Zebra hardware at this crucial time.

 

  1. Know the right way to clean your mobile devices.

Disinfecting mobile computers, tablets, printers, scanners, and other devices is critical to infection control in workplaces and public spaces. It’s especially vital for protecting healthcare workers on the front lines against the COVID-19 virus.

A device cleaning policy should be in place and enforced in every organization, to ensure that employees are properly disinfecting their devices on a regular basis.

Guidance must be specific to each device since different devices are manufactured with different components and materials, and their physical designs vary.

If you’re using healthcare-grade Zebra devices, Zebra Technologies has issued disinfection guidelines for Zebra healthcare-grade scanners, printers, and mobile computers. Click the preceding links to access those guidelines.

For non-healthcare models of Zebra products, you can look up the User Guide for your exact model on the support section of Zebra’s website and turn to the Cleaning Instructions section. Once you’ve accessed the user guide, search the document for the word “clean,” and that should take you to the appropriate section.

In Zebra’s user guides, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to thoroughly disinfect each device’s casing, buttons, screen (if applicable), and more. You can also confirm which cleaning agents are safe to use, including the purity or formulation levels for each ingredient.

If anything is unclear or you have questions, contact our team at SK&T, and we’ll be happy to help.

For those in the healthcare industry, we also recommend reading Zebra’s white paper, “Best Practices for Infection Prevention,” written by Darrel Hicks, a nationally recognized expert in infection control. The paper provides recommendations for additional precautions the healthcare industry should take to protect the health of providers and patients.

 

  1. Protect your devices from virtual viruses too.

Unfortunately, anytime there’s a crisis, cybercriminals and scammers take advantage of the chaos to victimize people. This is why it’s important to make sure all your enterprise mobile devices are protected against virtual viruses and other IT security threats.

Our partners at Zebra have an excellent white paper on this topic as well, called “Establishing a Robust Mobile Security Policy.” It covers the key risks to mobile devices and how you can avoid them. There’s also a good overview of Zebra’s current security platform here.

Make sure you’re following the recommended security guidelines and that your devices have the latest updates and protections to keep them safe.

 

  1. Reach out for support when you need it.

If you’re having any problem with your mobile devices, or if your current mobile infrastructure isn’t keeping up with your tracking and automation needs during the COVID-19 pandemic or beyond, contact our experts at SK&T for professional assistance.

We can help you optimize and keep your mobile workflows running to ensure responsiveness and efficiency at this time of great strain on our economy, society, and the healthcare system.

Ask us any question about any mobility issue. Contact an SK&T technology specialist now and we’ll respond as quickly as possible.

Zebra - Patient Identification

This year ambulatory surgery centers are taking a massive hit from COVID-19 shutdowns Zebra - Patient Identificationand cancellations of all elective surgeries.

Under normal circumstances, surgery centers have a tough enough time providing high-quality care and surgical procedures while keeping costs under control. But the financial reality has been turned upside down this year, and ambulatory surgery centers will be battling unprecedented challenges in patient safety and cost control.

Fortunately, one effective strategy to minimize risks and costs for patients and providers is to invest in a positive patient identification and mobile workflow strategy.

Error-proofing patient identification is a critical first step, and it’s absolutely crucial to ensuring patient and provider safety, especially in the era of COVID-19.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the stakes are particularly high, but even under normal circumstances, patient identification issues are at the heart of some startlingly negative statistics:

  • 13% of surgical mistakes are directly related to patient ID errors1

  • 35% of denied medical claims result from inaccurate patient ID or incomplete patient information1

  • 1.3 million people (1 per day) are injured annually due to medication errors2

  • 64% of clinicians say a patient is misidentified very frequently or all the time in a typical facility1

  • 63% of healthcare organizations say incorrect identification at registration is the primary cause for misidentification1

Now that we’re battling a pandemic on top of these other risks, the best way to fight back is with a positive patient identification strategy using barcode wristbands.

Toward that end, our team at SK&T has teamed up with Zebra Technologies to provide leading surgery centers with simple and cost-effective solutions to ensure accurate patient identification, seamless medication matching, and successful surgeries and claims.

By equipping ambulatory surgery centers with Zebra’s ZD510-HC wristband printing solution and Z-Band disinfectant-ready barcode wristbands, we provide a complete system to ensure flawless identification from admission and medication administration to surgical procedure and final discharge.

Our solution helps replace manual and error-prone identification processes and track patients, procedures and medications accurately to reduce risk, deliver safer care, and prevent denied medical claims.

And, Zebra’s Z-Band wristbands are disinfectant-ready and can withstand harsh cleaning solvents, including 70% alcohol solutions and healthcare-grade sanitizers.

Moreover, we’re working with Zebra to help surgery centers streamline their patient care workflows and maximize cost-saving productivity with mobile technologies such as touch mobile computers and tablets.

For example, Zebra’s TC52-HC healthcare mobile computer puts all the tools for mobile and efficient patient care at providers’ fingertips. It combines high-powered mobile computing; real-time voice, text, and alerts; and advanced 1D/2D barcode scanning in a single device that can be disinfected and has a virtually seamless housing to help prevent the spread of bacteria.

In addition to providing Zebra’s positive patient identification solutions and running your EHR, lab software, or other applications, the TC52-HC is also an all-in-one device for bedside and mobile patient care. Many of our clients have been using these and other Zebra devices, such as tablets and barcode scanners, to automate more of their workflows, save time, and coordinate better care at a crucial time for everyone involved.

If saving costs and keeping your patients and providers safe are top priorities for your surgery center, contact SK&T now to learn more about our Zebra solutions. We’ll show you how we can help you error-proof your patient identification and create a more efficient operation through the power of technology.

 

1 The Ponemon Institute, 2016 National Patient Misidentification Report

2 World Health Organization, “WHO launches global effort to halve medication-related errors in 5 years”

When we’re printing barcode labels, many of us like to save on costs, so we buy cheaper labels and printing supplies. But we don’t realize that the money we save on up-front costs will often turn into much higher costs in the long run.

This is because cheaper labels and printing supplies are usually made with low-grade materials that aren’t consistently manufactured and can actually damage our printers. They can also cause major issues with print quality, label adhesion, and barcode scannability.

In the end, using cheaper supplies adds up to costly printer servicing and repairs and disruptions to scanning and data capture workflows that often far outweigh any savings we got by spending less money at the outset.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why cheaper barcode labels and supplies cause these problems. We’ll also talk about how to avoid them by spending a bit more to buy high-quality and pre-tested labels and supplies that are properly matched to your application and needs.

Investing in the right supplies is the best way to minimize your labeling costs and ensure seamless data capture processes.  The long-term cost-effectiveness has proven during our 20-plus years of experience in recommending and delivering barcoding solutions across a wide range of industries and use cases. So let’s get started.

Cheap barcode labels and supplies cause a range of costly and damaging issues because they’re designed for low up-front costs and not quality printing and adhesion. They’re also not usually made to match specific labeling application needs, and they’re not designed to minimize wear on your printheads, which is where costly damage and replacements come into play.

How can you tell if your supplies are destined to cause more harm?

One of the first problems is low print quality, whether it’s blurry or faded barcode labels, or some other quality issues. This occurs due to the rougher surfaces of cheap barcode labels, which cause excessive printhead wear.

To compensate for poor print quality, you usually have to make a lot of printer adjustments that require more ink or ribbon, which uses up your supplies. But your printhead still gets worn out prematurely, which can cost you thousands of dollars in early replacements.

Next comes heat sensitivity, especially if you’re using direct thermal printing. Cheap labels are often sensitive to heat and create more print quality issues, requiring more printer adjustments and wasted supplies.

Additionally, if you’re using cheap, low-quality labels, your label adhesives can easily fail, meaning your labels don’t stick. In the end, you can end up with damaged and unreadable labels due exposure to sunlight, moisture, water or chemicals.

If your labels need to adhere and be readable in these conditions, low-cost supplies won’t cut it. You need specialized label materials, adhesives, and printer ribbons, or you’ll end up with smudged, smeared, damaged, scratched, or otherwise unscannable labels that can even fall off.

To avoid all of these issues and minimize long-term labeling costs, it’s always best to choose quality and long-term savings over up-front costs. For true cost savings, it is imperative that you make sure your labels and printing supplies match your application requirements.

What can you do about this problem?

One simple way to do that is to invest in the best barcode labels and supplies. At SK&T, one of our esteemed partners is Zebra Technologies. Zebra, for example, manufactures all of its products with ISO-certified quality processes and rigorous pre-testing to ensure proper adhesion, scannability, durability, and minimal printhead wear.

At SK&T, we carry over 500 stock Zebra printing supplies products, and when you use Zebra printers and agree to use Zebra supplies exclusively, you also get 100% guaranteed protection against premature printhead replacements.

To learn more, contact our labeling experts at SK&T for pricing and recommendations.