Medical carts were designed to provide nurses and doctors more freedom and access to information throughout their shift. With electronic health records right at their fingertips, providers can access important information about their patients, input data, and look up conditions to provide the best course of treatment. The mobility of these carts allows providers to do this all on the go, potentially reducing the time a patient needs to spend in the hospital, especially when they are waiting to be released.
Customizable options on your medical carts allow you even more freedom to move about your facility or office during your shift without having to stop for supplies or bring patients to certain devices. You can create a medical workstation on wheels from your simple cart.
The Importance of Smooth Workflow
When an employee can plan out their workflow to maximize efficiency, their shift will run more smoothly, and patients will be taken care of much faster. According to Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, workflow is, “The set of tasks–grouped chronologically into processes–and the set of people of resources needed for those tasks, that are necessary to accomplish a given goal.”
Sometimes, workflow processes are very informal and come in the form of multitasking. Most employees in any organization will relate a story where they stopped by a different department on their way to somewhere else to drop off an item or pick up an item. This is maximizing workflow by eliminating the need for multiple trips to transport items to and from a place.
Disruptions of workflow, especially in the form of new IT software in the healthcare workplace, can slow down work progress significantly. When medical carts were first introduced to hospitals in the 1990s, the carts had very minimal battery power and were mostly tethered to the next available electrical outlet. Nurses and doctors still had to leave the room to retrieve information, order tests, and flip through charts.
The constant interruption of workflow when a healthcare provider is with a patient takes away from the patient’s feeling that they are receiving quality care and adds on to the additional time a provider spends on a patient’s case. This means longer wait times in busy facilities, overwhelmed healthcare staff, and inefficient workflow.
Many peripheral options can be added to medical carts to optimize them for a smoother workflow. Options such as barcode scanners, sharps disposal containers, and medical supply bins are all options which can help keep the provider with their patients for longer periods, providing quality direct care.
The Many Benefits of Medical Computer Carts
Medical computer carts provide many kinds of benefits to any healthcare environment. From financial and management benefits to decreasing data entry errors to increasing patient satisfaction, the ability to access electronic health record systems (EHRs) on the go increases efficiency across the board.
On average, medical errors cost between $17 and $29 billion annually, meaning that this cost is being passed back to patients and providers by insurance companies. Data entry errors can be extremely costly, resulting in unnecessary tests and procedures. It also costs time and money to go through and fix those errors in the system.
Many of these errors occur because nurses and doctors are overwhelmed with the amount of data they need to enter. Without mobile computer carts that they can bring with them to each patient, they must wait for a free computer at the nurse’s station, usually when they are on break or at the end of their shift. By that point, they have many patients’ worth of information to input.
The majority of the time of a healthcare provider’s shift is spent at the computer, inputting data, according to this 2015 study. If the doctor or nurse is in a rush or is overwhelmed by the number of records they need to get through, errors are more likely to occur.
Conversely, if doctors and nurses can complete this information in real-time with the patient in the room, they are less likely to make these costly errors. This method allows the provider to double-check with the patient on any information they are unsure of, including information that may be hard to read because of handwriting.
Doctors and nurses also can look at the patient’s overall medical record and test results and discuss some of the patient’s concerns. When a patient feels like their provider is listening to them, they are more likely to feel they are receiving quality care.
Spending more time with the patient, while simultaneously entering vital data into the EHR, fosters communication between the patient and their provider. Providers can access symptoms, drug interactions, and other important information right from their computer, and share these details with the patient. Their plan of treatment will be more meaningfully informed based on this vital process.
This reduction in errors benefits everyone, both financially and in the patients’ health.
1. Peripheral Add-Ons
When it comes to customizing a medical cart to fit your staff and facility’s workflow best, there are several peripheral options and categories to choose from. Many of these options will minimize the amount of time your doctors and nurses will spend tracking down supplies or transporting patients for tasks. Many tasks can be completed right by the patient’s bedside, which has been shown to cut down on a patient’s stay by up to 30 minutes.
For turning your medical cart into a medical workstation on wheels, you can add on peripheral options such as:
- Trash container
- RFID device
- Tabletop extension surface
- Barcode scanners
- Document scanners
- All-in-one computers
- Large monitor space
- Double monitor space
- Chart holder
- Sharps containers
Many healthcare workers will appreciate having these peripheral options available on their medical carts, and they will find that having these options so close at hand can improve their workflow immensely.
2. Customizable Drawers
The drawers on most medical supply carts are easily customizable for what will work best for your staff and patients. From large storage drawers, to cassette drawers, to medical bins that work with robotic fill systems, there are many options for customizing your cart with all of your storage needs.
Our carts are offered with manual locking drawers and electronic locking drawers. They can even be equipped to be used with proximity cards, which are fast becoming the smoothest way to access EHRs and medication carts in hospitals.
If any of the drawers on your cart are not properly locked, they pop open slightly to give a visual indicator that they need to be locked.
3. Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT)
Our carts are equipped with Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology, or FMCPT, featuring a Hot Swap battery system that can also be customized for the needs of your staff and facility. Our FMCPT system utilized lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4), which run for 10-12 hours on average and last 4,000-5,000 charge cycles.
These batteries carry 72 individual cells in each pack and weigh about eight pounds. They are engineered with a handle for easy removal from our BCS charging system and can be quickly swapped out in less than 30 seconds. Carts can be equipped with one or more Hot Swap battery packs, depending on the amount of power your cart will need.
Most carts work well with one or two batteries, but other carts with large monitors, including PACS viewing stations and double monitors may need more battery power. Carts can be customized with enough battery packs to keep your equipment running for an entire shift.
Because our LiFePO4 battery chemistry is much less volatile than the chemistry of regular lithium ion batteries, they can be rapidly charged up to 85%. Our BCS charging system carefully monitors this process. If there are multiple batteries to be charged, the BCS will bring each up to 85% before charging them the rest of the way. This is a safer process for charging batteries, and it allows the cart to be available sooner for longer periods.
Our batteries also do not develop system memories which cause other batteries to not charge as optimally over time. Our batteries are guaranteed for five years and a minimum of 3,000 charge cycles. This also reduces the budget of replacing batteries that only last for a little over a year.
Carts can also include on-cart charging or off-cart charging BCS ports. For medical offices that are not open 24 hours, on-cart charging may be the best option at the end of the day when the cart can be parked and plugged in. It may also be a good option for facilities with limited space. We can even upgrade your existing carts to include this BCS option.
On the other hand, larger, busier facilities that are open for long hours may benefit from a centralized charging station where charged batteries can be charged and swapped out quickly. This also cuts down on the amount of hallway clutter, which can become a fire or safety hazard. Nurses and doctors can quickly stop by this central charging station on their unit or floor, grab a battery pack, switch it out with the old one, and put up the new one to be charged.
Our state-of-charge indicator displays also come standard with our FMCPT carts. These ensure the battery is running at optimal levels. If our BCS system detects any malfunctions, it will quickly shut the battery down. We even have charging indicators on the batteries themselves, so you can see where they are in the charging process when they are in the ports.
Our FMCPT carts eliminate the need for IT technicians to step in every time a computer runs out of a battery charge. It also puts the user in charge of monitoring their battery use. Our state-of-charge indicator will alert the user when the battery has one hour of life left, and it will flash when there are only 30 minutes left on a charge.
Healthcare providers can plan their workflow around this process, and they can rest assured their work will not be lost during the Hot Swap battery change. Batteries will reach a full charge again within 2.5 hours.
4. Vital Signs Monitoring
Some medical carts can also be outfitted with IV poles and vital signs devices. This makes the vital sign process portable and cuts down on transporting patients to different locations for these tasks.
5. Procedure Carts
Our carts can also be customized for specific procedural purposes, such as anesthesia carts. Since these carts contain low-level schedule drugs and often have to be accessed quickly in critical situations, they can be equipped with locking drawers, or without them.
Additional options include a tabletop extension for additional monitoring equipment for anesthesia procedures. Hot Swap battery systems allow for these carts to be wheeled around anywhere in the hospital setting without the need to plug in to an electrical outlet. In case of power failure, these carts can keep running, even during procedures.
Clean inspection carts can be custom fitted to include a light source and probe, while intensivist camera carts can extend up to eight feet. PACS viewing stations can also be customized to fit one or two monitor displays and enough battery power to keep it running for at least 12 hours.
6. Rounding Carts
If you’re looking for a simplified medical cart that will power your laptop and is easy to push, pull, and maneuver, rounding carts are a no-frills option for doctors who want something to keep their work online as they visit patients. Sometimes, customization is about simplicity.
If you are looking for a way to maximize efficiency in your healthcare facility, reduce errors and costs, and optimize staff workflow, our carts can be customized to fit your needs. We have many cart options and peripheral features that can be added or subtracted to work for your facility. From drawer customization to add-ons such as printers, scanners, and even IVs, our carts can improve your facility’s workflow.
If you have any questions about enhancing or customizing your fleet of medical carts, please call 1-512-756-7300 to speak to a member of our team.