As of January 2014, all medical facilities, from hospitals to dental clinics, must implement Electronic Health Records (EHR) according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Consequently, medical staff require easy access to computers and data input stations to record patient medical information in real-time. This technology prevents clerical errors that could result in misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.
Mobile computer carts allow medical staff to transport laptops or integrated computers that comply with electronic health record-keeping laws. However, these medical carts use a significant amount of battery power.
Traditionally, these carts used rechargeable lead-acid batteries as their power source. While these batteries possess adequate autonomy, they are noticeably heavy and require charging time almost as long as their total autonomy.
Hot-swappable batteries use updated battery chemistry and technologies like dual power supplies to provide a more efficient alternative to non-hot-swappable batteries and conventional battery chemistries like lead-acid or lithium-ion.
What are Hot-Swappable Batteries?
A hot-swap battery is a battery product compatible with hot-swap operation. Hot-swapping allows a user to safely remove and insert batteries into the battery compartment of a device or a platform carrying multiple devices without interruption of operation.
A hot-swap battery system in healthcare is typically employed on mobile medical carts. This feature allows a mobile cart to provide uninterrupted service rather than regularly stopping for battery recharge and maintaining onboard hardware power (e.g., computers, peripheral device arrays, etc.).
Usually, at least two battery compartments and mounting positions are needed to take full advantage of hot-swapping. For instance, one battery can continue providing power while the other is removed from the battery cradle and replaced with a reserve battery.
Features of Scott-Clark Medical Hot-Swappable Batteries
At Scott-Clark Medical, we offer carts outfitted with our patented Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT) which uses state-of-the-art lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs. Some of the features you can expect from a Scott-Clark Medical battery include:
- Advanced battery energy storage system with an autonomy of 8-12 hours
- Each battery pack only requires 2.5 hours to be fully charged
- Nursing staff can charge battery packs on-cart or off-cart on a wall battery charger cabinet without specialized knowledge
- Carts and replaceable batteries support hot-swapping
- Convenient visual battery LED indicator with non-ambiguous battery utilization hint system (e.g., tells staff remaining battery charge in hours and minutes)
- Non-interrupting maintenance of power: External batteries can be changed without technical assistance within 30 seconds to prevent disruptions to connected equipment
- Multiple battery cradle configurations available for external batteries
- 5-year manufacturer’s warranty
- 3,000+ cycle warranty
Benefits of Hot-Swappable Batteries for Your Facility
Outfitting your medical carts with hot-swappable external batteries offers numerous advantages. Here’s how caregivers benefit from batteries with hot-swappable capability.
Providing Uninterrupted Service
Carts with a standard internal battery typically have a low battery life, disrupting your cart’s normal operation when you need to switch or recharge it. Losing onboard hardware power has a negative impact on caregiver workflows, productivity, and patient care.
Carts with a hot-swap battery system ensure they carry enough remaining energy storage in the replaceable battery to provide power to connected equipment like computers and peripherals while replacing battery packs.
The modular power distribution unit (PDU) is the most crucial component of the hot-swappable battery design. It combines all input and output power connections with a manual bypass switch.
The modular power distribution unit’s manual bypass switch and dual input features enable battery replacement and complete power module exchange without powering down connected equipment.
Easy Regular Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Unlike internal battery technology, a hot-swap cart doesn’t need a professional technician to change the battery or conduct regular maintenance. The battery LED indicator displays each battery’s charge status and time remaining; for instance, you’ll see a yellow light switch on when the battery is low and needs to be changed.
Scott-Clark Medical’s hot-swappable power modules require little to no learning curve for medical staff. The battery compartments angle outward, and the battery modules feature an integrated handle, allowing easy removal and replacement.
The proper reintroduction of power modules into their sockets typically results in an audible click, letting personnel know they have correctly inserted the batteries in the compartments. Upon inserting a fresh battery, the indicator light should be clear, and the LED display should show the charging status of each external battery.
Our FMCPT batteries are also compatible with the SOCI II indicator system, providing easy-to-read battery information to healthcare personnel. Instead of using vague percentage values or icons to represent remaining battery power, the SOCI II system uses large text, colors, and time values (in hours and minutes). When the battery has 20 minutes of power left, the text color changes from green to orange, giving personnel a clear battery use hint.
The heart of the FMCPT battery energy storage system is the advanced lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) cells employed in their construction, offering many of the same advantages found in typical lithium-ion batteries while avoiding many of their drawbacks.
Like standard lithium-ion battery technology, LiFePO4 features fast charging rates (achieves a full charge from 0% in 2.5 hours) and relatively low natural battery discharge rates (approximately 2% per month). However, the primary disadvantages of a lithium-ion battery are heat accumulation and rapid loss of retained capacity after successive charges.
When under load (charging or powering), a standard lithium-ion battery rapidly heats up, potentially increasing the chance of component failure. Some batteries also become sufficiently hot to cause pain when manipulated.
As these batteries are repeatedly charged and discharged, they gradually lose their maximum capacity. Most Li-ion batteries can only withstand 500 full battery discharge-recharge cycles before reaching 80% retained capacity.
In contrast, a LiFePO4 battery does not accumulate as much heat under load, preventing the high temperatures from causing component failure or injuries when manipulated. It is also much more efficient at retaining its factory capacity, capable of withstanding 3,000 full charging cycles before falling to 80% retained capacity.
Cart mobility is critical for medical facilities to ensure they can provide effective urgent and non-urgent care for patients. Previous cart models with lead-acid power systems were heavy and challenging to maneuver around hospital floors.
However, modern LiFePO4 and lithium-ion battery systems are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for facilities with narrow hallways and tight spaces between patient beds and helping keep medical carts lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Although the weight of sealed lead-acid batteries varies depending on capacity, a typical 12-volt, 24 amp-hours (Ah) battery (approx. autonomy: 8-9 hours) weighs 20 to 22 lbs. In contrast, Scott-Clark’s LiFePO4 batteries feature an equivalent capacity of 25 Ah while weighing only 8.1 lbs. In other words, a LiFePO4 battery has over 2.5 times the capacity per pound of a lead-acid equivalent.
Hot-swap batteries reduce power-related operation downtime by ensuring optimal power availability. A hot-swap cart with a dual battery system and two fully-charged external batteries has a minimum battery autonomy of 16 hours, up to 24 hours, depending on the cart’s power draw.
The dual power supplies’ extended autonomy grants caregivers two significant advantages: they have the confidence that they have enough power to last for an entire shift, and they can integrate trips to the battery charger cabinet into their workflows.
For example, when one of the batteries runs low, personnel can conduct non-interrupting maintenance by swapping it with a fresh reserve battery in a matter of seconds. In contrast, a conventional battery energy storage system with single batteries would render the cart unavailable while the battery is recharging, disrupting the workflow.
The less time personnel spend managing the cart’s battery modules, the more time they have focusing on their duties, keeping productivity high.
Other Battery and Power Options From Scott-Clark Medical
Although hot-swappable external batteries offer the greatest flexibility for your facility, we also provide alternative power system modules so you can customize your mobile medical cart to suit the exact flexibility needs of your staff and facility. We offer the following power module options for your medical carts:
- Non-powered medical carts (No onboard power)
- Basic cabling system for connecting devices to wall outlets
- Conventional battery energy storage system with internal battery pack (4x C-cell batteries, non-user serviceable)
- FMCPT hot-swappable battery system with a single battery cradle
- FMCPT hot-swappable battery system with a dual battery cradle
Enjoy Unlimited Power Supply for Your Medical Cart with Scott-Clark Medical
Hot-swappable power modules enable your staff to access computer carts, a peripheral device like a scanner or lockable medication cabinet, and life-saving equipment quickly and easily. The battery’s careful design ensures the cart’s continuous operation to optimize productivity.