Medical carts on wheels are a fixture in virtually all healthcare facilities and have been since at least the 1950s. Battery-powered healthcare devices and digitized patient records created an enormous demand for computers on wheels (COWs).
Computer use at hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and senior care facilities has revolutionized patient care in many ways. There are four primary factors behind these advances:
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
- Advances and miniaturization of medical care equipment
- Wi-Fi and cloud storage
- Hot-swap portable batteries for medical carts
These four factors are the driving force behind why modern medical facilities need flexible, mobile computing solutions to achieve efficient workflows.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Although hospitals have used computers for many decades, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act started the revolution in computer use and, eventually, mobile computer carts in hospitals.
The legal requirement spelled out in the Act required all public and private medical care facilities to adopt the use of electronic medical records by 1 January 2014. To incentivize compliance, the Act specified penalties of cuts up to 1% in Medicare reimbursements of hospitals that did not comply with the act by January 2015.
Just as the computer has revolutionized work and the workplace, no hospital setting in the United States or any other worldwide location today could function efficiently without the modern computer workstation on wheels.
The traditional medical cart, which resembled tall TV dinner trays mounted on wheels before the advent of the computer, has evolved significantly in the past 30 years.
Today, the medical industry employs powered carts for portable hospital equipment, medication dispensing, laptops, and more. As medical technology expands, so does the need for instant access to patient databases throughout the clinic. Nowadays, most facilities consider healthcare computer carts part of their essential equipment.
Using a custom medical computer cart provides several productivity enhancers to improve the quality of care for all patients. Nurses and doctors can more easily dispense drugs, document patient status, update electronic health records, check the results of medical tests, bill, and generally manage all aspects of patient care.
Most COWs are also height-adjustable and feature other ergonomic enhancements, making them easy to use and preserving the health and performance of caregiving personnel.
There is no need for cumbersome paper records or reports. Everything gets entered, instantly loaded to the patient’s records, and becomes immediately accessible to authorized caregivers.
COWs significantly help mitigate patient risk. Doctors and nurses no longer need to rely on notes and memory to add data to a patient’s records. COWs help lower the chances of medication errors, ensuring each patient receives the correct substances and dosages.
If a patient’s dosages or prescriptions need to be modified, the doctor or nurse can instantly record and request whatever drug test or change is required.
Computer carts also come with onboard power supplies. These power supplies can be used as an electronic locking system to ensure any drugs in the medication cart are stored safely.
Swappable Battery Systems
Hot swap technology lets medical cart users carry power supplies wherever needed. Swappable batteries provide continuous power to the computer and all connected peripherals without worrying about charging or running out of battery life at a critical point in time.
The LiFePO4 battery technology employed by the best workstations on wheels is more efficient and longer-lasting than a typical lithium-ion battery pack, similar to the type used by mobile devices.
COW battery packs serve a dual purpose of providing power to healthcare equipment and peripherals and ensuring that during use, there are no power interruptions. Clinical staff, ER personnel, nurses, and doctors can focus on the patient and not constantly monitor battery status.
The Safety Aspect
Hospital cart manufacturers provide top-grade battery systems specifically designed for use in hospital environments. These batteries meet rigid standards so they are unlikely to cause a fire or explosion.
Computer Cart Customization
COWs manufacturers can customize a computer cart to your hospital’s specifications.
Clinics can order COWs with lockable drawers for medications and other items, built-in additions like IV poles or hide-away battery packs, printers, and bar scanners.
Surgical clients may want COWs with specific additions based on the types of surgeries most often performed at the facility.
Order Your New Fleet of COWs at Scott-Clark Medical
Although customized COWs with power can be expensive, used COWs often allow budget-constrained administrators to purchase quality carts at reasonable prices.
COWs today are generally made of stainless steel or polymers with coatings resistant to microbes and germs and very easy to clean.
The wheels have specialized designs to minimize the chance of dirt, bits of surgical gauze, or other contaminants getting caught in the mechanism while traveling from place to place in your facility.
At Scott-Clark Medical, we can even retrofit your fleet to help you save money. For more information on our services and products or to request a quote, contact us today at (512) 756-7300.