While computers-on-wheels, or COWs, have been in widespread use in hospitals since 1995, a chief complaint about their usefulness has been their power supply. For years, nurses and doctors have found themselves wasting valuable time trying to track down a fully charged medical laptop cart on wheels or looking for an electrical outlet to power their cart. Often, these locations are far away from where their patients are, or they are in the hallway, which adds to hospital hallway clutter.

We’ve examined these common complaints, and combined with our desire to increase patient satisfaction, hospital efficiency, and use of COWs in industrial environments; we’ve devised a power system to help keep carts powered remotely. Our patented Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology system, or FMCPT, provides workers with the ability to switch out drained batteries with fully charged batteries quickly. Batteries can also be fully charged on the carts.

Whether you’re in a medical facility or a warehouse environment, our Hot Swap batteries will power your cart for your entire shift. You no longer have to keep an eye on the battery levels or hope that someone monitoring it remotely will notify you of a low battery. Instead, you can have the confidence that your battery levels are under your control, and with a quick switch-out, you can be on your way again.

State-of-charge indicator display

Many medical workstations on wheels are part of a broader network which is monitored remotely by an IT technician. In many cases, if a battery needs to be recharged, an IT technician has to come and replace it with another battery. If a battery dies completely, an IT technician must again be called to work on it. This is incredibly inefficient, especially in large facilities where there are multiple carts and other technology issues to be addressed.

In many of these environments, the battery life is also remotely monitored, meaning that the user has no idea how much time they have left on the charge of their mobile medical cart. Sudden power losses mean lost time scrambling to find an outlet or replacement battery, or lost work if the data being entered had not yet been saved.

Scott-Clark Medical offers a solution to put doctors and nurses in control of the workflow of their medical laptop cart on wheels. With our state-of-charge battery indicator display, you no longer have to guess at how much time is left in your battery charge. Our display is large enough to see, well-lit, and tells you exactly how much time is estimated in your battery life before it runs out.

When the battery only has an hour of charge left, this display will light up to alert you so that you can plan your next hour of work accordingly. If you have patient data entry to finish up or a few final room rounds, you can do this without worrying that the battery will run out too soon. The display begins to flash at the half-hour point. This is when most users will stop and quickly switch out the battery.

There is also a display on each battery pack itself. If for some reason your indicator is not working, or if you want to check to make sure it’s correct, you have a secondary way to ensure that you will have enough battery life. This also comes in handy for carts that may not be equipped with our state-of-charge indicator display on top of the cart, but still, use our Hot Swap batteries.

Our battery chemistry

While many other cart makers use standard lithium ion batteries, Scott-Clark Medical decided to go in a better, more efficient direction. We use lithium iron phosphate batteries, or LiFePO4, which contain 72 individual cells in one battery pack. Each battery is designed to hold 320-watt hours of energy.

While our LiFePO4 batteries are slightly larger and heavier than other brands, we want to ensure these batteries will not fail like other, lighter lithium ion battery packs. We have compensated for the weight and size with other engineering ingenuity.

To ensure that our batteries are always safe to use, our carts do more than simply display battery life. Our patented intelligent controller and charger system, known as a BCS, queries the batteries continuously, checking for problems or issues that may lead to failure. If our indicator finds that anything in the battery has gone awry, it will immediately shut it down for user and patient safety.

Because of this patented safety technology and unique LiFePO4 chemistry, our batteries last for more discharge/charging cycles. Whereas a standard lithium ion battery may only last for 1,200 cycles, our LiFePO4 batteries will last for 4,000-5,000 cycles. This means that your Scott-Clark Medical cart warranty won’t run out before the batteries do, unlike other medical cart manufacturers.

Our batteries do not develop a system memory which deteriorates the amount of time it takes for a battery to charge, or how long a battery will stay charged over time. It’s acceptable to allow the battery to fully deplete to the half-hour mark and recharge it to its full capacity without penalty.

Our batteries come with a 5-year warranty and can be charged in 2.5 hours, which is often much faster than other comparable battery packs. The LiFePO4 batteries can be charged on or off the cart, handled safely by users, and is designed to be swapped quickly– in under 30 seconds.

The BCS system

The intelligent BCS system does more than simply monitor the batteries. It performs many other tasks vital to the batteries’ health and long life. Some of these tasks include:

  • swapping of batteries without interruption to the power or display of the computer
  • monitors health and safety of the batteries
  • manages on-cart charging to optimize energy flow, with high-capacity discharging for carts that are power-hungry, such as PACS viewing stations
  • in two-battery carts, it will choose and use the healthiest battery to keep your cart powered

Our BCS takes all the guesswork out of the health and life of your battery systems. IT technicians can now focus on monitoring the health of the entire network instead of the battery life of individual carts. Users of the carts will feel more in control of their workflow throughout their shifts.

Charging stations

If you choose to use our charging stations, rather than charging batteries on the carts, there are a variety of benefits to this choice. Our charging stations do more than simply charge the batteries: They provide an enhanced state-of-charge information display that tells you important details about the batteries’ status.

These charging stations are wall-mounted and provide a power system flow for your unit or office. When battery packs run low, they can be mounted in this central location to be recharged to at least 85% within 2 hours. This level is the minimum amount for a battery to be charged safely. Nurses and doctors can come to these charging stations and select a charged battery for their cart quickly, or to outfit their cart completely for a long shift.

Our charging stations provide an immediate diagnosis of batteries that are inserted, and the test results are displayed in bright colors. This allows users to identify problematic batteries or choose a different one that is more fully charged.

Our unique charging station also charges batteries to 85% rapidly, then slows it down to maximize energy absorption. If these charging stations are mounted on a cart, and two or more batteries are mounted to the cart, the charging station will charge one battery until it reaches 85%. From there, it will begin charging the other battery until it reaches 85%. This ensures that both batteries have optimized their energy absorption and are ready to use much sooner than charging one battery to full power before starting on the next one.

Financial benefits

While our LiFePO4 batteries cost more than standard lithium ion batteries, the longer life cycle, coupled with our warranty, make this a cost-effective decision for any budget. Other lithium ion batteries need to be replaced within 1,200 cycles, meaning that a financial investment in new batteries must be made more frequently. This negates the cost-saving maneuver of lithium ion batteries because our LiFePO4 batteries will last for twice as long.

We also provide advance replacement warranties on the first three years of the life of the batteries. From there, we provide prorated credits towards replacement batteries for the next two years until the batteries reach 3,000 cycles. Most of our users see the batteries last for much longer than that.

Staff benefits

Doctors and nurses can have confidence that their FMCPT system will keep their cart powered throughout the majority of their shift, with the ability to switch out a dying battery at any time without having to call IT. They will no longer have to search the halls, trying multiple carts to see which still has a charge.

This also cuts down on the number of carts parked in hallways, charging and adding to the clutter. These mobile medical carts can go with you wherever you go, from one floor to the next and from one patient’s bedside to another.

The benefits of such carts also cut down on the amount of time doctors, and nurses need to spend on their breaks or at the end of their shifts entering patient data into the electronic health records system. When a doctor or nurse can enter patient data with the patient in the room, they are less likely to make mistakes, and more likely to incorporate meaningful decisions for treatments with the patient able to provide input.

When medical errors account for between $17 and 29 billion dollars annually, the cost of just a minimal mistake is very clear. Of those errors, data entry errors specifically accounted for $12.2 million in patient liability lawsuit payouts over a 5-year period.

The added benefit of not having to leave the room to check a patient’s test results or type in information also lowers these error risks. When a healthcare provider can enter information with the patient, uninterrupted, their minds are more focused on the task at hand.

Patient benefits

Patients appreciate the added time their doctors and nurses can spend face-to-face with them because of medical laptop carts on wheels. When a doctor or nurse doesn’t have to constantly leave the room to look up information such as test results, procure forms, or order tests, the patient and provider can spend more time discussing the patient’s concerns.

This extra time allows the doctor to make more informed treatment decisions, using the patient’s input as a guide. The doctor can also show the patient important information about their condition and possible treatment options so that patients can make informed decisions for their own care.

Industrial applications

While COWs are heavily utilized in the medical industry, many industrial operations such as warehouses are also finding many benefits to using mobile laptop carts with our patented FMCPT system. Warehouses that use computer systems to pick, scan, and track inventory will employ a laptop cart throughout the day.

Warehouse shifts last similarly long to hospital shifts at somewhere between 10-12 hours. This means that warehouse workers, supervisors, and other staff need to access their systems for long periods. Our FMCPT systems on mobile carts allow these workers to use their computers and scanners from anywhere in the warehouse. The easily moved and maneuverable, lightweight carts can fit into any aisle with ease, and can quickly turn corners or move through crowded spaces.

Warehouse workers and managers can be confident that our carts will power their computer system throughout their shifts, increasing efficiency and profit margins.

Final thoughts

At Scott-Clark Medical, we have taken the concerns of frustrated healthcare workers and crafted a specially-designed power system to make your shifts easier. You no longer have to worry about finding a fully powered cart or using a battery that isn’t fully charged. We have designed our technology so that you don’t need extensive knowledge of technology to use our carts. Simply snap in our batteries and go, so that you can focus on the aspects of your job that matter most.

Please contact us at 1-512-756-7300 or [email protected] if you have any questions about any of our products.

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