Evaluation: Zebra TC52-HC Purpose-Built Clinical Communications Device

February 12, 2020 | Evaluations & Guidance


  • The Zebra TC52-HC is a multifunction communications device primarily used by clinical staff to communicate with each other and with patients.
    • When the device is used with a care coordination application (we've evaluated several such applications), one can:
      • Communicate via secure texting
      • Initiate voice conversations
      • Receive secondary alarm notifications from the point of care
    • We tested the Zebra TC52-HC equipped with an integrated bar-code reader and Cerner CareAware Connect care coordination application.
  • Other functions and characteristics specific to the Zebra TC52-HC device are:
    • Hosting other clinical applications, such as BCMA and mobile EMR thin client
    • Personal alarms—push-button (panic) alarm
  • Major device components and software features include:
    • TC52-HC handset: 155 × 74 mm (6 .1 × 2.9 in), 249 g (8.8 oz). Includes a 110 × 62 mm (4.3 × 2.4 in) 1280 × 720-pixel touchscreen for display and user input, front (5 MP) and rear (13 MP) cameras with flash, and a swappable battery. Belt clips, soft holsters, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader handles are optional accessories.
    • Integrated bar-code imager: Bar-code readers at the point of care enhance safety through a BCMA system. Integrated bar-code imagers allow the scanning of wristbands and medications in dimly lit areas, such as patient rooms at night.
    • Handset software: StageNow, a solution that eases deployment. This works in conjunction with enterprise mobile device management (EMM) software to provide centralized administration of all deployed handsets (i.e., install/uninstall apps, manage device settings, apply security patches and firmware updates).
    • Handset communication interfaces to hospital networks:
      • Wi-Fi interface, including Voice over Wi-Fi application support. The following protocols are supported:
        • 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n/d/h/i/k/r/v/ac)
        • Quality of service: i) Zebra WorryFree Wi-Fi—Zebra Mobility DNA application to optimize Wi-Fi ii) Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM)
        • Wi-Fi security protocols: Authentication methods include: i) WEP (40 or 104 bit) ii) WPA-Personal iii) WPA2-Personal (TKIP and AES) iv) WPA2-Enterprise. Includes EAP-TTLS (PAP MSCHAP, MSCHAPv2), EAP-TLS (PEAPv0-MSCHAPv2, PEAPv1-EAP-GTC and LEAP, EAP-PWD), Opportunistic Key Caching (OKC), and Cisco Client Key Management (CCKM)
        • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) interface for Voice over IP (VoIP)
      • Zebra also offers a companion product called TC57 with cellular interface certified for AT&T FirstNet and Verizon public safety networks. Protocols available are VoLTE (4G), LTE FDD, LTE TDD, UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+, GSM/GPRS/EDGE (3G cellular).
      • Near-field communication (NFC) ISO 14443 Types A and B, FeliCa and ISO 15693 cards, typically used to read or emulate "tap to log in" identification badges. Zebra also has solutions for "tap and print" use cases where hospital staff print out bar-coded wristbands or specimen labels using applications on the TC52 and an NFC-enabled label printer. Also, the built-in NFC interface is used by Zebra during initial device deployment.
  • The TC52-HC can be used in any healthcare environment. When used in conjunction with a care coordination application, the TC52-HC can provide a patient-centered platform for users of a care team to quickly and effectively coordinate with each other while following all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy standards. It does this by providing a single interface to allow users to:
    • Send and receive HIPAA-compliant secure text messages
    • Initiate voice calls via VoIP
    • Receive and acknowledge alarm messages from other systems
  • Other Android-compatible applications can reside on smartphone-based communications devices such as the TC52-HC. Apps might include secondary nurse call thin clients, secondary alarm notification, or EMR thin clients. Purpose-built clinical communications devices can also support RFID systems (e.g., by acting as a tag or as a tag reader).
  • Zebra has verified operation with the following vendors:
    • Wireless LAN controllers: Aruba, Cisco, Xtreme Network
    • Access points: Aruba, Cisco, Xtreme Network
    • Private branch exchange (PBX) for telephony: Asterisk, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel
    • EMM/mobile device management (MDM): Cerner Skybox Mobility, 42 Gears, IBM, Mobile Iron, Soti, VMWare Airwatch, Android Zero Touch protocol
    • Nurse call systems: Ascom, Hill-Rom, Rauland
    • Secondary alarm distribution: Cerner Event Management, Connexall, Philips, Spok, Vocera, and any Android-based clients
    • Secure texting (care coordination application): Cerner Connect Messenger, Connexall, Epic Secure Chat, Halo, Mobile Heartbeat, Spok, TeleMedIQ, TigerConnect, Voalte, Vocera
    • EMR: Allscripts, Cerner (Millennium and Sorian), Epic, Intersystems, McKesson, Meditech, MiniMAX
    • Real-time locating systems (RTLS): Tagnos
    • Materials management: Lawson, Tecsys
    • Specimen collection/lab: Cerner, Digi-Trax, Epic, Haemonetics, Lattice, Sunquest, Soft Computer
    • Patient care equipment: Becton...

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