Jan 26 2017

Plug-and-Play Notebooks Give Mobile Therapists Greater Flexibility

A Texas physical-therapy company looked to experts when selecting and configuring mobile devices that would untether staff from the gym so they could better serve patients.

When Senior Rehab Solutions IT Director Charles Goady needs additional computer equipment to meet rapidly expanding demand, he needs it fast. As the Dallas-based company transformed to a fully digital environment, he could no longer afford to wait the two to three weeks the vendor he’d been working with required to build and configure the hardware he ordered.

“I started looking for other solutions,” he says.

At the same time, Senior Rehab Solutions decided that migrating all its speech, occupational and physical therapists from thin client desktops to mobile devices would provide valuable flexibility to access and input patient data at the point of care, thereby boosting efficiency and quality of care.

“We wanted the ability to go into residents’ rooms or find residents wherever they were at the nursing facility so we could begin to talk and work with them there, rather than waiting for staff to bring them down to the therapy gym,” Goady says.

Maximizing Limited IT Resources

Goady recognized that the five people on his IT team already had their hands full supporting more than 1,000 users in 50 locations across Texas.

“We are a full-service in-house IT department handling everything from paper jams to database queries,” he says.

Anticipating a rollout of as many as 50 new notebooks at one time, he knew he needed additional help.

“I needed to be able to have the notebooks shipped to each location fully ready to go with our image and our configuration, because I just didn’t have the manpower to do that internally,” he says. “I would have had to dedicate one or two people for a week and a half just to work on all those computers.”

Goady turned to CDW Healthcare for guidance on tablet and notebook options and eventually landed on Lenovo ThinkPad X Series notebooks, which are designed to pass eight military-specification durability tests while remaining lightweight and ultra-portable.

“The X120 worked very well for us because we have a lot of data entry that needs to be done, and tablets aren’t really great for that,” he says, noting the price point was attractive, too. “The X120 has full computer functionality for less money than a tablet.”

Finding the Right Tools for Every Task

Within two months of deciding to go full speed ahead with the X120 and X130 models, Goady rolled out the initial 40 notebooks. He increased the number to nearly 100 in less than a year. Since the Lenovo notebooks are Windows-based, as were the thin clients the therapists previously used, Goady was able to seamlessly integrate the new equipment into workflow.

“It’s a regular Windows computer, so there’s no learning curve at all,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to go with this solution instead of an iOS device or a tablet: Folks were able to pick it up and run with it from the beginning.”

He pointed out that while the therapists appreciate the notebooks’ ultra-portability, sometimes they prefer to do extensive documentation using a bigger screen and keyboard. For those situations, Goady has found it easy to set up workstations, using a docking station, monitor and keyboard.

The notebooks have consistently met Goady’s expectations in terms of performance and quality as well as user satisfaction — and have proven more durable than he’d ever imagined. When a tornado ripped the roof off one of Senior Rehab Solutions’ therapy gyms, he retrieved a storm-damaged notebook that had ended up in the dumpster.

“I picked it up and watched the water pour out of it,” he recalls. After giving it a chance to dry out for several days, he figured he would turn it on and see what happened. “It actually powered on and worked. We were quite impressed,” he adds.

Forging a Partnership That Delivers

Goady also saw big value in the configuration services CDW Healthcare could provide along with the hardware, so that the devices arrived in the field locations ready to plug and play. His IT team never had to handle the devices.

“CDW Healthcare has the Lenovo equipment in stock and can get it to me the next day, if I want,” he says. “And their configuration team can configure it exactly the way I want it and ship it directly to the location where it’s needed. That saves us time and money.”

Since the initial notebook rollout, Goady has added Lenovo servers and has worked with CDW Healthcare to bundle several different setups with specific licenses and accessories, both for the notebooks the therapists use and for the desktops the administrative staff uses.

“That way, I can just shoot my account manager an email and say, ‘I want an X130 notebook.’ I can keep it short and simple,” Goady says. “I don’t have to remember, ‘Hey, include this, and don’t forget power strips and network cables.’ All that is just automatically included, and it’s a luxury I really enjoy.”

In fact, the more Goady learns about and takes advantage of the services CDW Healthcare offers, the better able he is to leverage his limited in-house resources.

“I’m glad I explored those options. I wish I’d done it sooner. Being able to ship the computers out to our locations plug-and-play ready has really helped our organization,” he says.

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock