Top 5 Benefits of Using Chromebooks in Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic led consumers and providers alike to seek new ways to safely access and deliver healthcare services. The use of telehealth and remote work solutions skyrocketed, with 46% of patients using telehealth services in 2020.

This shift proved that many healthcare functions can be successfully executed in remote settings, such as monitoring, diagnosis, and some types of therapy.

In healthcare, remote work has enhanced productivity, improved workplace safety, and helped organizations overcome resource and capacity shortages. This shift to remote work accelerated the need for digital transformation, and it pushed healthcare systems to expand the usage of various digital solutions already in place. It also highlighted the need for greater mobility within health systems.

In the realm of healthcare IT, the term mobility is defined as continuous network activity. It describes both the way users access clinical data and the use of mobile devices at the point of care.

Portable health technologies such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, and mobile printers can eliminate or reduce the need for manual, error-prone processes.

For example, rather than writing specimen labels by hand, healthcare staff can print materials on demand, ensuring that the label is legible and accurate.

When properly integrated, mobile devices are a revolutionary clinical tool. According to research from the American Medical Association, nearly nine out of 10 clinicians believe that digital health solutions increase their ability to care for their patients.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the benefits of a popular technology device that can benefit healthcare organizations: the Google Chromebook.

What Sets Chromebooks Apart from Other Devices?

While Chromebooks and traditional laptops might seem interchangeable at first glance, there are a few key distinctions that set Chromebooks apart from other digital devices.

In sum, Chromebooks:

As more organizations across all industries adopt cloud strategies for business, Chromebooks have seen a sharp increase in usage.

By the second quarter of 2021, Chromebook shipments had jumped 75% over the same period in 2020, with 11.9 million devices shipped from April to June.

Rather than running on an internal hard drive, most of Chromebook’s apps run from the cloud. This cloud-centric approach makes these devices a secure way to access and share cloud-based healthcare applications, such as electronic health records (EHRs).

By using Chromebooks, healthcare organizations increase mobility for in-person medical staff, improve data security, enable remote administrative capabilities, and more.

What Are the Top Benefits of Chromebooks for Healthcare?

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that Chromebooks can provide in healthcare settings.

1. Enhanced Data Security

Patient data confidentiality is paramount in both remote and in-person healthcare settings. Many hospitals have embraced smartphones and wearable devices to increase healthcare provider mobility and improve productivity, but there’s been little research performed to test the security of these devices.

Smartphones and wearable devices are targets for malicious activity, such as data exfiltration and security breaches. But since Chromebooks operate on Chrome OS, they’re equipped with multi-layer security features that help protect sensitive patient data.

Chrome OS updates automatically and runs constantly in the background of the Chromebook to protect against malicious cyber-attacks, malware, viruses, hackers, and other data risks.

Secured Chromebooks can safely access patients’ protected health information (PHI) safely in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant Google drive and provide secure access to other healthcare applications.

Chrome OS also safeguards hospital data with strategically created and located data centers. When users create or update content on a Chromebook (e.g., patient charts), Google’s servers back up the data automatically.

If a hospital-administered Chromebook is lost, stolen, or compromised, the backed-up data can easily be restored or transferred to another Chromebook.

The Google Admin console can also be utilized to remotely apply a hard factory reset to a lost or stolen Chromebook, wiping it of its contents.

2. Improved Staff Mobility and Communication

Communication breakdowns are a leading cause of medical errors, which can include misdiagnoses, treatment delays, or patients receiving the wrong treatment, medication, or procedure.

Shift changes, poor documentation, and ineffective communication systems all contribute to miscommunication between healthcare providers.

Chromebooks can help to mitigate these problems and enhance communication by facilitating real-time access to medical records and diagnostic lab results.

For example, nurses can spend up to 70% of their time in direct patient care either checking vitals, documenting patient health information, administering medicine, or other patient care activities.

Instead of placing a desktop in every patient room or pushing around computer carts, Chromebooks, with their portability and long battery life, could enable nurses and other care providers to access information from anywhere.

3. Greater Productivity via Streamlined Operations

By 2024, hospitals in the US are expected to spend $9.9 billion on EHR software solutions. Because Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, providers using these devices would have 24/7 cloud access to all healthcare data, which can be automatically backed up in the cloud.

In this scenario, however, it’s important to note that users would have remote access only to data specifically stored in the cloud. Data located on desktops or on-premises software would be inaccessible.

Chromebooks also connect to the internet wirelessly, giving healthcare teams the ability to access clinical software and applications from anywhere at any time. Since all data is stored in the cloud, personnel can share devices securely by logging in to their individual Google Cloud profile.

This can help streamline some processes while also enabling healthcare facilities to reduce hardware costs, since devices can be shared among healthcare workers.

Prior to the pandemic, those who needed care would have to stand in line at the front desk of a hospital or clinic to check themselves in as a patient. This requires at least one healthcare staff member to facilitate the check-in process.

Chromebooks can also streamline the check-in process by functioning as self-service kiosks when they arrive for appointments and sign paperwork digitally. According to a Forrester study, shared devices and self-service kiosks can recover 156 hours of productivity per employee per year.

4. Long-Lasting Durability in Healthcare Settings

One of the most appealing benefits of using Chromebooks in healthcare is their user-friendly software and hardware design.

EHR computer carts are often bulky and take up a lot of space inside patient rooms. On the contrary, Chromebooks are portable and lightweight, making them easy to carry from room to room.

Despite their sleek, minimal appearance, Chromebooks are both sturdy and durable. Based on MIL-STD-810G testing standards for durability, Chromebooks can withstand drops from up to 48 inches as well as up to 132 pounds of downward force.

They’re also water resistant and dust proof, making Chromebooks ideal solutions for daily use in healthcare facilities where spills are often highly prevalent.

Chromebooks are equipped with a battery that can last an entire eight- to 12-hour shift (the typical shift length for most healthcare workers). In fact, the average Chromebook has a battery life of nearly 10 hours, making it ideal for use among hospital staff.

And because data is stored in the cloud instead of on the device, Chromebooks can boot up in a matter of seconds. While a traditional Windows computer may take up to five minutes to boot, Chromebooks take less than 10 seconds. They can also be kept on standby without compromising battery life.

5. Simplified Healthcare IT Management

Healthcare IT administrators can control all Chromebooks (both on-site and remote) within the Chromebook admin console. The console also simplifies configuration and management of applications, networks, and user access parameters.

Chrome OS protects sensitive health information on Chrome devices, which can reduce the burden on IT management. In healthcare settings, the time IT spends deploying, supporting, and maintaining devices can be reduced by 75% by using Chromebooks.

Administrators can use the console to enforce managed policies, provide access to internal virtual networks, forcibly install Chrome applications, and even wipe stolen or misplaced Chromebooks of all sensitive patient health information.

Remote administration also empowers healthcare organizations to identify software performance issues before they cause a jam in the workflow.

Remote device access and management through the Google admin console allows IT professionals to implement software updates for any applications installed on any employee’s Chromebook from a remote location.

Leverage the Best of Chrome and Windows with Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS

Chromebooks are cloud-powered, portable, secure devices that help streamline operations for healthcare facilities.

A major consideration, however, is that Windows applications (e.g., Excel or Word) do not run natively on Chrome OS. The need to run legacy Windows software and applications has been a major obstacle in preventing organizations from adopting Chromebooks.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this problem: Parallels® Desktop for Chrome OS, a solution that allows Chromebook Enterprise devices to run full-featured Windows applications.

Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS is a standalone solution that runs directly on the device, as opposed to a typical Chrome application that is installed separately. Users can install and run approved applications on their Chromebooks anytime and from anywhere, both online and offline.

To see how Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS can run full-featured Windows applications on Chromebooks, download a free trial.