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The Hospital Room PC, Reimagined

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2014

A new PC being tested in hospital rooms isn't like any PC you know. Sure, it delivers streaming video and gaming, but it can also provide patient monitoring and reporting.

Virtual desktops may be on a trajectory to erase the traditional work PC in hospitals, but at the International CES show last week, Intermountain proved that PCs have a new, somewhat surprising starring role in healthcare.

Last September, I wrote about how Memorial Healthcare in Owosso, Michigan had decided to replace traditional PCs with so-called "zero client" hardware that provided maximum mobility for clinicians and minimum maintenance headaches for IT staff. That trend continues, although some readers noted that antiquated software licensing policies at Microsoft and the PC-based EHR companies are slowing the move to zero-client PCs.

But at last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intermountain Healthcare made the point that the hospital room of the future very much depends on adding a somewhat reimagined PC at the heart of that room, and the software running on that PC won't be a zero client.

That's because the PC would effectively be a set-top box.

Intermountain is pilot-testing a modular PC with up to 350 ICU and ER beds, says Fred Holston, Intermountain's chief information technology officer. He showed off the technology at CES with technology partner Xi3, a company conveniently based in Salt Lake City, like Intermountain.

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