Taking telematics infrastructure to hospitals

Even the ancient Egyptians knew how to perform operations on open skulls – and as historical sources reveal, many patients back then were likely to survive and recover from these complicated surgical interventions. While this provides impressive proof of the medical skills mastered by the ancient Egyptians, we should still consider ourselves fortunate that we've made so many advances in the medical field: Modern medicine would be inconceivable without the use of what are, in part, highly complex IT systems – in fact, information technology represents a basic prerequisite for optimum hospital operations today – and helps ensure all sorts of processes proceed without problems over the course of the everyday work done at clinics.

In a healthcare system that has been digitalised to the extent that it is today, universal, nationwide networking is the next logical step. Work on the corresponding project is currently in full swing: What is known as Telematics Infrastructure (TI) involves setting up a secure, digital platform that improves cooperation in the healthcare sector for everyone involved, and ultimately simplifies it as well. All services that are integrated into this TI must be approved by gematik. New components that have been specifically developed for TI, such as the connector or the eHealth card terminal, also require certification by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

The CHERRY-eGK keyboard G87-1505 with its integrated card terminal, which has been approved by gematik, satisfies all the criteria required by strict data security systems by its connection to the connector. The keyboard's extensive manipulation protection means that the terminal has been awarded the requisite BSI certification. Combining a keyboard and eHealth terminal makes the G87-1505 a reliable, space-saving and cost-efficient solution for workplaces in the healthcare sector – a one-of-a-kind solution. Furthermore, another characteristic of the G87-1505 is the fact that it is connected to the workstation by means of USB.

Integration of the terminal into the TI

CHERRY has specially developed a USB-LAN proxy of its very own as a system service to ensure that the eHealth products can be used in the network. The USB-LAN proxy allows the terminal in the USB keyboard to communicate with the connector via the network interface of the PCs connected via LAN. This makes a separate power supply unnecessary. Moreover, there is no need to route additional network cables through the building, and no additional network switch need be installed. This saves space at the site of use. What's more, the CHERRY G87-1505 has been integrated into Citrix (ICA) and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDP) functions. Another advantage: The USB LAN proxy allows the keyboard to be allocated an IP address of its own, making operation possible in a different network segment than the PC it is connected to. Furthermore, when the computer to which it is connected features a WLAN interface, the eHealth terminal can also communicate with the connector via WLAN.

Different situations need different solutions

Hospital-based use in particular means there are other aspects that can benefit from the advantages of a terminal keyboard of the type that CHERRY offers. In contrast to doctors' practices, where there is a limit on the number of workplaces and networks, the situation in most German hospitals is a different one altogether: There are between 400 and 500 workplaces distributed across multiple departments. Six to eight different networks are used on the premises, sections of which are segmented as well, keeping them strictly separate and each one self-contained. All in all, the networks in hospitals form a heterogeneous, highly complex structure. Communication across all the different partitioned network segments can end up becoming complicated. This isn't, however, the case for the eGK terminal keyboard from CHERRY. It provides the optional "Locate Terminal Connector" setting, which ensures that the terminal can be located reliably regardless of which subnetwork it is in.

Another feature that is different to doctors' practices: The terminals – regardless of design – are constantly sending out messages and status reports to the connector. In hospitals, these messages, known as broadcasts, can cause high volumes of traffic in the network; based on the assumption that there are 50 to 100 terminals transmitting broadcasts in one single hospital, a considerable volume of data traffic can accrue. In the case of the CHERRY solution, a setting can be entered that determines the frequency with which the broadcasts are transmitted. This optimizes the network traffic.

"If you don't go forwards, you go backwards", as the proverb goes, and just as medicine has made continuous advances since the ancient Egyptians, so too is the German healthcare system currently undergoing a radical transformation. What is certain is that the changes currently being implemented ultimately represent an improvement for everyone concerned: for doctors, institutions and patients. And what was true for the ancient Egyptians, who had quite some success with the means available to them at the time, is also true for us: When you've got the right tools, you're bound to achieve your objective.

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Schon im alten Ägypten wurden Operationen am offenen Schädel durchgeführt – und wie wir durch historische Quellen wissen, haben die Patienten damals diese komplizierten Eingriffe durchaus überlebt. Das ist zwar ein eindrucksvoller Beleg für die medizinischen Künste der alten Ägypter, dennoch können wir uns glücklich schätzen, dass wir heute im Bereich Medizin schon sehr viel weiter sind: Moderne Medizin wäre ohne den Einsatz zum Teil hochkomplexer IT-Systeme nicht mehr vorstellbar, vielmehr stellt die Informationstechnik für einen optimalen Krankenhausbetrieb schon heute eine Grundvoraussetzung dar – sie unterstützt den reibungslosen Ablauf vieler Prozesse im Klinikalltag.

In einem derartig digitalisierten Gesundheitswesen, wie wir es heute haben,ist die bundesweite, flächendeckende Vernetzung der nächste logische Schritt. Das entsprechende Projekt läuft derzeit auf Hochtouren: Bei der so genannten Telematik-Infrastruktur (TI) geht es um die Schaffung einer sicheren, digitalen Plattform, die die Zusammenarbeit im Gesundheitswesen für alle Beteiligten verbessern und unter dem Strich vereinfachen soll. Alle Dienste, die Teil dieser TI sein werden, müssen von der gematik zugelassen sein. Neue Komponenten, die eigens für die TI entwickelt werden, wie beispielsweise der Konnektor oder das eHealth Kartenterminal,müssen zusätzlich vom Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik zertifiziert werden.

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