22 February 2007

Ethnographic research informs Intel’s Mobile Clinical Assistant

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Intel's MCA
Intel’s Mobile Clinical Assistant is in essence nothing more than a customised and ruggedised tablet PC. This product contains no new technology whatsoever. Yet, ethnographic research allowed it to become a real innovative project for the healthcare sector.

Intel Corporation has announced the mobile clinical assistant (MCA) is ready to enable nurses to spend more time with patients, do their jobs on the move while remaining connected, and manage the administration of medications.

As Intel’s first platform built specifically for healthcare, the MCA is an important step in the company’s efforts to better connect clinicians to comprehensive patient information on a real-time basis. The lightweight, spill-resistant, drop-tolerant and easily disinfected MCA allows nurses to access up-to-the-minute patient records and to document a patient’s condition instantly, enhancing clinical workflow while reducing the staff’s administrative workload.

Some of the features designed to ease the nurse’s daily workload include: wireless connectivity to access up-to-date secure patient information and physician’s orders; radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for easy, rapid user logon; a digital camera to enhance patient charting and progress notes, to keep track of wounds as they heal; and bluetooth technology to help capture patient vital signs.

So really nothing new in terms of technology.

To develop the MCA, Intel also conducted a broad range of pilot studies in hospitals worldwide, including El Camino Hospital in Northern California, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom, and Changi General Hospital in Singapore.

Social scientists from Intel’s Digital Health Group conducted ethnographic studies of clinicians using the MCA at each hospital to understand the platform’s usage, usefulness and usability in the context of real clinical work practice. Across these hospital settings, nurses and physicians appreciated the integrated handle; immediate anytime, anywhere access to secure patient information and orders; and the docking station that allows them to easily swap batteries to achieve shift-long use.

The ethnographic research clearly also informed the promotional video, which does not talk about technology at all, but is totally focused on the experience of nurses using it.

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