Rolling computer carts, also called Workstations-on-Wheels (WOWs) or mobile computer carts, are a staple of medical and caregiving facilities worldwide. One of the biggest benefits of using a fleet of carts is that they are available in numerous configurations and can be completely customized to fulfill a range of different purposes.
If you’re looking to buy a new fleet of rolling computer carts or need to replace your existing older models, it is essential to understand what they can do for you. Take a look at the different cart types, understand their differences, and discover their features, options, and peripherals.
Rolling Computer Cart Basics
A medical rolling computer cart is similar in appearance and purpose to a standard industrial computer cart. Both are mobile platforms set on rolling casters, featuring mounting points for a desktop or laptop PC and typical peripherals, such as a monitor, a keyboard, or a mouse. Rolling carts specifically designed to support laptops instead of desktop PCs are known as laptop carts, although they possess the same overall purpose.
The main differences between medical and industrial carts lie in the design. Medical computer carts generally possess specific features intended to meet certain safety requirements for use in a healthcare environment, such as a simple design, rounded surfaces for easy cleaning and sterilization between patients, or height adjustment features for bedside point of care.
The primary advantage of a rolling computer cart is its mobility. A rolling cart allows your personnel to take full advantage of a computer workstation without being constrained to a static position, such as an office, a computer room, or a similar environment.
A computer cart allows you to transform a standard desktop PC intended for a home office into a fully functioning mobile workstation, granting extra flexibility and improving productivity.
The heart of a rolling computer cart is its onboard power supply: a large, long-lasting, rechargeable battery into which you can plug the computer, monitor, and all other relevant peripherals.
Without a mounted battery, rolling computer carts would still require you to plug your components into the wall socket, effectively tethering them to the room. Unplugging would mean powering down, which would render the computer unusable during transit. A battery system eliminates these limitations, significantly improving flexibility and mobility, two essential traits in the healthcare industry.
Types of Rolling Computer Carts
Not all rolling workstations are created equal. Although there are virtually limitless configurations and customization options, most rolling carts are generally configured to fulfill a specific purpose, such as emergency care, vitals monitoring, or medication dispensation.
In medical care facilities, the two most common types are medication carts and point-of-care carts.
A medication cart (also referred to as a medical supply cart) is effectively a workstation on wheels with additional storage compartments for medical supplies.
Medication carts offer many advantages. Reduced travel and wait times at central pharmacies ensure that medical staff spends more time with their patients and less time filling prescriptions and fetching supplies. Increased patient-caregiver interactions have been shown to improve patient health outcomes and increase patient satisfaction.
The improved efficiency also increases staff productivity, making it a cost-effective choice for your facility.
Medication carts can be customized with additional peripherals to further boost productivity. For example, you may install extra storage baskets, a holder for a barcode scanner, or mounting points for IVs or vitals monitoring.
You can also configure your storage drawers with a wide range of options; many different sizes and numbers of storage compartments are available, including lockable drawers. Medications that are frequently abused, such as opiates, should be stored in a secure location. Lockable drawers, either using a standard key, card reader, or biometric locks, increase your facility’s security.
A point-of-care cart is a rolling computer cart designed mainly for use in a patient room. Point-of-care carts allow caregivers to bring fully functional work computers directly to the patient’s side.
Studies have determined that these carts offer numerous essential advantages in a healthcare environment, improving patient safety and nursing efficiency. By bringing the workstation to the patient’s bedside, nursing personnel can listen to them more often, answer more of their questions, and provide better care.
In addition, staff commit fewer errors, as they do not have to travel to and from an office or a dedicated computer room to input patient data. As a result, patients feel heard and cared for, contributing to increased patient satisfaction and overall caregiving quality.
Like medication carts, point-of-care carts are more than just mobile computers, frequently possessing additional peripherals and accessories, such as extra monitors, a printer, paper storage baskets, miscellaneous item drawers, and more.
Sometimes, standardized product configurations don’t meet your needs. Perhaps you could use a different number of drawers, a dual-display system for PACS imaging or heavy display monitors, or maybe you need extra mounting points for specialized hardware.
In such situations, you need a custom rolling computer cart tailored to your exact requirements. Call Scott-Clark Medical with a list of prerequisites and features; we would be happy to build the perfect rolling cart for you.
Security and Locking Devices
Storage compartments containing sensitive medication and equipment need a secure, reliable locking mechanism. Fortunately, there are many options available.
The simplest solution is to use single-locking drawers, with one key per drawer or compartment. However, there are alternatives with added security, such as dual-locking drawers, combination locks, electronic keycard readers, or biometric locks.
Dual-locking mechanisms feature a standard mechanical lock combined with a secondary locking system that disables the primary lock when engaged. With the secondary lock engaged, you need two keys to access the contents, making it an ideal solution for extra security when your carts return to storage.
Combination locks require you to set and memorize a specific number combination to unlock it. This solution has the advantage of letting you change the combination periodically to maintain security.
Electronic locking mechanisms, such as keycard readers offer even more security. A keycard reader is effectively an electronic equivalent to mechanical keys, but with more convenience and safety. Keycards can be reconfigured to grant access to specific locks, eliminating the need to carry large numbers of keys.
Another alternative is the biometric lock. This lock type eliminates the need for keys, granting access to its contents by applying your finger to the scanner and showing the correct fingerprints.
Biometric locks are highly secure and easy to configure, making them a safe and efficient solution to keep unauthorized people from accessing the contents.
FMCPT Power Systems
Without a power source, your rolling computer loses its mobility. However, the healthcare environment imposes stringent demands; the power source should be reliable, long-lasting, efficient, fast-charging, and sufficiently light to keep the cart mobile and easy to use.
Typical computer cart power systems rely on commercial battery technologies that have been standard for decades, such as the lead-acid battery (Pb-acid) or the lithium-ion battery (Li-ion).
However, they come with numerous disadvantages that make them questionable choices for use in a caregiving facility. Lead-acid batteries are heavy and slow to recharge, whereas lithium-ion batteries do not have a high maximum capacity and tend to run hot under high load.
Scott-Clark Medical has partnered with UltraLife to bring you the best of both worlds with Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology, a power system featuring state-of-the-art lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFEPO4) batteries.
LiFEPO4 battery chemistry brings the best of both worlds, combining high capacity (7 to 9 hours per battery), high reliability, fast charging times (only 2.5 hours for a full 0% to 100% charge), and manageable weight (8 lbs per battery pack).
Our FMCPT power system supports dual-battery setups, allowing you to keep your rolling computer carts powered for extended periods, well past the duration of a typical 12-hour shift.
In addition, you can hot-swap our batteries, and dual-battery setups allow for swapping batteries without shutting down connected equipment. With a suitable battery management strategy, you can keep your rolling computer carts powered without interruption.
Order Your Rolling Computer Carts Today
Reliable, high-quality rolling computer carts are essential equipment for any hospital, clinic, or caregiving facility.
At Scott-Clark Medical, our mission is to help you provide the quality and efficient care that your patients need. If your facility requires a fleet of new computer carts, we can provide you with the best standard models and custom solutions on the market. Contact us for a quote or any other requests and inquiries.
Why shouldn’t I use a standard industrial computer cart?
Standard industrial computer carts typically possess design features and elements that make them unsuitable for use in healthcare environments, such as sharp angles, corners, and other difficult-to-clean crevices. In turn, such carts may house bacteria and infectious agents, representing a significant health risk.
Can I use a laptop on a rolling computer cart?
We offer dedicated mobile carts intended to support laptop computers. They are lighter, do not feature a mounting point for a desktop tower, and possess a countertop designed to retain and secure the laptop in place.
Do rolling computer carts support large-resolution monitors?
Standard mounts support monitors between 15” and 17” in diameter, but we also offer models capable of accepting monitors up to 24” in diameter.