Medical carts on wheels are a fixture in virtually all healthcare facilities and have been since at least the 1950s. Battery-powered healthcare devices and digitized patient records created a massive market in COWs or computers for hospitals.
Computer use at hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and senior care facilities have revolutionized patient care in many ways.
The reasons for this are many but center around four things: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, advances and miniaturization of vital healthcare equipment, Wi-Fi and cloud storage, and hot-swap portable batteries for medical carts.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Although computers have been around and used by hospitals for many decades, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act started the revolution in not only computer use, but, eventually, also the use of mobile computer carts in hospitals.
The legal requirement spelled out in the Act required all public and private healthcare facilities to adopt the use of electronic medical records by 1 January 2014.
To incentivize compliance, the Act specified penalties of cuts up to 1% in Medicare reimbursements of hospitals that did not comply with the act by January 2015.
No hospital in the United States, the UK, or just about anywhere could exist with computers. Simple hospital carts, more like TV dinner trays on wheels, have evolved significantly in the past 30 years.
Today, clinics use powered carts for portable hospital equipment, medication dispensing, laptops, and more.
As medical technology expands, so too does the need for instant access to patient data bases throughout a clinic.
Most healthcare facilities consider COWS as mandatory equipment.
Increase in Efficiency
Using a medical computer cart provides you with several productivity enhancers to ultimately improve patient care.
Nurses and doctors can more easily dispense drugs, document patient status, order or check the results of medical tests, bill, and generally manage all aspects of patient care.
There is no need for cumbersome paper records or reports. Everything gets entered, instantly loaded to the patient’s records, and becomes immediately accessible to authorized caregivers.
COWS significantly help mitigate patient risk.
Doctors and nurses no longer need to rely on notes and memory to add data to a patient’s records. COWS help lower the chances of errors in medication types and dosages.
If a patient’s needs change, the doctor or nurse can instantly record and request whatever test or change in drugs required.
Swappable Battery Systems
Hot swap technology lets medical cart users carry power supplies with them wherever needed.
Swappable batteries provide continual power to the COW without the need to worry about charging or running out of electricity at a critical point in time.
COW battery packs serve a dual purpose of providing power to healthcare equipment and peripherals and ensure that during use, there are no power interruptions.
ER staff, nurses, and doctors can focus on the patient and not monitoring battery status.
Although the FDA has issued warnings in the past about COW mobile batteries, when used, catching fire, this is directly related to careless procurement.
Hospital cart manufacturers provide top grade battery systems specifically designed for use in hospital environments. These batteries meet rigid standards and have virtually no chance of causing any fire or explosion.
COWS manufacturers can customize a computer cart to your hospital’s specifications.
Clinics can order COWS with lockable drawers for medications and other items, built-in additions like IV poles or hide-away battery packs, or printers and bar scanners.
Surgical clients may want COWS with specific additions based on the types of surgeries most often performed at the facility.
Although customized COWS with power can be expensive, used COWS often allow budget-constrained administrators to purchase quality carts at reasonable prices.
COWS today are generally made of stainless steel or polymers with coatings resistance to microbes and germs and very easy to clean.
Even the wheels have specialized designs to minimize the chance of dirt, bits of surgical gauze, or other contaminants from getting caught in the mechanism while traveling from place to place in your facility.