Healthcare facilities are introducing mobile medical carts to meet the ever-changing needs of patient care. As healthcare professionals learn more about the conditions affecting their patients, their approach to care adapts and develops. Advances in technology are crucial in the drive to provide better and more efficient treatment. Medical cart computers are now integral in many healthcare environments.
Mobile workstations are constructed of lightweight aluminum, allowing for easy transport around facilities. Battery technology is continually evolving. The batteries are now more powerful and achieve more energy storage than ever before – in some cases, up to 80% more. The lifespan of a cell is also increasing, giving not only more value, but decreasing the impact on the environment.
Carts can be equipped with brightly lit screens, up to two at a time. If required, iPads can also attach to the unit. Powered carts can carry equipment to measure vital signs and have visual and audio equipment for diagnostic and explanatory purposes.
A solution for medical situations in clinical settings, the carts have features such as automatically locking medication drawers, cardiac, anesthesia and pediatric specialist equipment, and sharps disposal.
Advanced technology such as barcode scanners, proximity scanners, and robotic fill systems can attach.
While these innovations are impressive, it is how they are contributing to patient care that provides the real value.
Health and Safety
Before any facility introduces medical equipment to a healthcare environment, it must pass rigorous health and safety checks. A mobile cart is fitted with rolling casters to allow easy and safe transport throughout a building. When stationary, quick lock brakes can be applied.
Mobile medical carts are lightweight and evenly balanced, minimizing the risk of overbalance and falls. Wagons carry units that safely store sharps, scrubs, masks, gloves, and materials that may be infected. By placing them in sealed containers at the point of care, users reduce the risk of infection.
Paper records that are on the end of a bed risk breaching confidentiality laws. By having a mobile computer with them as they carry out an assessment, data can be stored safely in electronic medical records. Only those with the required permission can access the patient’s file.
The accuracy of information is also improved. Notes that are written by one professional, and then passed to another to enter on a computer workstation, opens up the opportunity for data to be incorrect. One professional inputting notes directly on to the system does not allow for such error.
Encouraging a patient to become involved in their healthcare can make the stress of being ill more manageable. Medical grade mobile carts come with a height-adjustable mechanism. Users can quickly lower computer screens to the height of a patient’s bed. Physicians use the screen to display test results, scan images, and x-rays.
As the computers are internet-enabled, they can use the powerful intel core processing to bring up educational material, which can help the patient and their families understand complex medical terminology.
Consistency of Use
For equipment to be of benefit, users must work with it consistently to become familiar with the features. At Scott-Clark Medical, we use advanced Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT) with lithium batteries. These swappable batteries have a prolonged use time of 10-12 hours, an extended life span, and use clean energy.
While some mobile carts need charging at a wall socket, our units can charge one battery on the move while another is powering the workstation. The intelligent battery system will alert the user when one battery is low on charge, both by a visual cue and an audio beep.
Our hot-swap system allows the user to change one battery to another easily. While work continues, the cart will then recharge the one that is low on charge. It takes approximately 30 seconds to change batteries and 2½ hours to recharge another.
The priority in any healthcare setting is to have a clean and sterile environment. Hospitals are busy with medical professionals from many fields, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Having computer workstations in a central area can be convenient, but it can also be a high-risk location for transferring infection.
Mobile workstations come with infection control measures. Before each use, the healthcare professional can sterilize the unit using wipes, sprays, and cloths, which they can then dispose of in safe containers. These can be removed and disposed of at the end of a shift. By adding keyboard and mouse covers and thoroughly cleaning their own hands, users will reduce the chance of infection.
Aside from being good practice, as the professionals use the mobile workstations in the central wards, the importance of following infection control procedures will be emphasized to patients.
The importance of consistency applies to how professionals organize a cart. Coming complete with drawers, side baskets, and a laptop tray, users can adopt a system to be followed by all. Clearly marking drawers will show each professional where they can locate each piece of equipment. Having disinfectant materials in the same place for each shift will help the cart remain clean. A clean work area on the laptop tray will promote efficiency.
Being organized is crucial when dealing with pharmaceuticals. Automatic locking drawers keep the medicines safe, while also allowing quick access at the point of care. The barcode scanner holds a record of each drug dispensed, who authorized it, and which patient received it. These records are stored electronically and are instantly accessible to any professional on any other computer in the hospital. There is minimal risk of duplication or error.
It is the wide-ranging features of mobile medical carts that make them a vital component in healthcare. However, it is the way institutions use the technology that provides significant benefits. While healthcare professionals see how they can assist their approach, it is also patients who are discovering the benefits to their care.