It’s difficult to imagine how a modern healthcare facility would function without current technologies, such as medical computing equipment, mobile devices, or healthcare-grade information technology systems (e.g., hospital networking). Medical carts with hot-swap battery systems are at the center of many of these technologies, serving as the cornerstone of modern caregiving workflows.
Why Battery Power Logistics Matter
For every device that runs on battery power, healthcare personnel must prevent these devices from running out during shifts. Having enough battery power during emergencies (e.g., a patient is coding) and other critical moments becomes a life-saving requirement.
Battery-powered medical carts can also continue functioning during power outages and other events, disconnecting a facility from the electrical grid. They protect computers from unexpectedly losing data and critical information.
Many medical carts also carry other valuable peripherals and equipment, such as vitals monitoring machines, which can run using onboard battery power. Keeping these systems powered, even during an outage, may be a crucial factor for many patients.
Consequently, unreliable or slow power logistics aren’t just a hindrance for everyday workflows; they can also endanger patient lives. Battery-powered medical carts play a vital role during emergency responses; ensuring they have the battery power to last through extended shifts and emergencies is critical.
The Importance of Battery Construction
Ideally, the batteries on every cart should be lightweight and have the autonomy to last extended shifts (12 to 14 hours) while also benefiting from fast charging times. Overly heavy batteries weigh carts down, reducing ergonomics and increasing the risk of physical strain and injuries.
Low autonomy forces staff to replace batteries more often, and long charging times mean decreased chances of finding ready, fully-charged batteries when visiting a charging station. Both of these drawbacks significantly disturb healthcare duties, reducing caregiving quality.
Choosing the Right Chemistry
Although modern battery technology has significantly reduced the size and weight of a typical rechargeable battery, legacy chemistry and internal battery construction have limitations.
For example, sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries benefit from high capacity but are heavy and have slow charging times, often equally as long as their autonomy. For instance, an SLA battery with a nominal autonomy of 8 hours requires about 8 hours to recharge.
In contrast, standard lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are lightweight and charge quickly, but each unit has limited capacity and autonomy (sometimes no more than 3-4 hours), requiring extended multi-battery modules (3, 4, 5 batteries, or more) to last a standard long shift.
The battery chemistry that offers the best combination of autonomy, unit weight, and charging times is Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4). Scott-Clark’s URB0012 batteries use LiFePO4 chemistry and provide the following attributes:
Individual unit weight of 8.1 lbs. heavier than Li-ion but significantly lighter than SLA batteries of a similar size
Long autonomy (7-9 hours), comparable to SLA
Fast charge rate (2.5 hours to recharge from empty) comparable to Li-ion
Additionally, Scott-Clark URB0012 batteries are designed with safety and ergonomics in mind. Each battery features integrated safeties automatically detecting when it is being manipulated or pulled out of a cart, disconnecting power safely and automatically. The built-in handle also provides a safe and easy-to-grasp surface for easy lifting and transporting batteries between carts and charging stations.
How the Right Workflows Support the Best Technologies
While having access to the best battery technology available is essential for improving autonomy and charge times, no single battery unit currently available has the perfect collection of attributes needed for the rigors of healthcare work, which is why technologies like hot-swapping are beneficial.
Powered carts compatible with two or more batteries and hot-swapping technologies offer the most efficient power logistics because it allows nursing staff and doctors to swap low batteries for fully-charged ones without cutting power to the connected computer and equipment. Changing a battery takes 30 seconds, making it easy to integrate battery replacement at any given moment.
Example Battery Replacement Flow
A nurse takes control of a powered computer cart with a hot-swap dual-battery system and checks the State of Charge Indicator (SOCI) module or the battery’s integrated low-power indicator.
If one of the two batteries has less than one hour of remaining power, she may apply a standardized battery replacement procedure, which could be as follows:
Bring the cart to a charging station.
Disconnect the low battery from the medical cart. The battery system automatically switches to the other battery, keeping the computer powered.
Insert the low battery into the charging station. Scott-Clark URB0012 batteries can recharge from empty in approximately 2.5 hours.
Retrieve a ready, fully-charged battery from the charging station and insert it into the cart’s empty battery compartment.
Return to nursing duties.
Depending on the distance to the nearest charging station, the battery replacement process may take little more than a few minutes and can be naturally integrated into a nursing workflow. Each caregiving facility can adapt and modify its battery replacement procedures according to its specific needs, the layout of its facility, and the size of the local powered cart fleet.
Scott-Clark Medical Can Help You Provide More Efficient Care
Scott-Clark Medical aims to equip hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities with the technologies they need to keep medical computers and essential equipment powered.
Our patented Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT) and state-of-the-art LiFePO4 batteries are designed to help nursing personnel focus on their jobs by minimizing time spent managing battery logistics and technical issues. To learn more about our products, contact us now at (512) 756-7300.