What Nurses Want: Streamlined Mobile Healthcare Cart Solutions

By Bradley Carlson, Point of Care Product Manager, TouchPoint Medical
LinkedIn: TouchPoint Medical

Efficient, “all-in-one” tools enhance caregivers ability to keep the focus on patients.

Workstations on wheels—WOWs—are the equivalent of the nurse’s office. This equipment is integral to rounding, charting, and administering care and must help not hinder workflow. Nurses spend 35% of their time on documentation or an equivalent of 3.5 hours of the workday entering information at a computer. To maximize workflows, they seek designs and devices that are appropriate to the setting, comfortable, and easy to maneuver.

Ergonomic designs increase efficiency and productivity, while helping to reduce fatigue, exertion, and musculoskeletal disorders—all side effects caregivers can experience during a long work shift. When properly integrated, technology creates a clinical workflow that benefits all involved, promoting increased interaction, satisfaction, safety, and efficiency during the patient-caregiver exchange.

Pain Points
Nurses often struggle with several aspects of WOWs. Their major concerns center around size, weight, and ergonomics. A powered medical cart paired with traditional computer components requires a battery that can weigh as much as 50 pounds. Along with weight, nurses cite small screens on monitors and clutter from peripheral equipment as areas for improvement.’

Nurses desire solutions that are lighter and more streamlined, while IT seeks technology and hardware that is easy to integrate and maintain across a range of clinical applications. Those desires have spurred a move toward mobile all-in-one (AIO) medical grade computers that feature “hot-swap” batteries. These batteries enable the use of nonpowered carts that are lighter and easier to maneuver to pair with AIO computers. Clinical tasks can be streamlined, allowing access to all needed applications in one spot

“Hot swap” battery technology means that as batteries are depleted, they can be swapped out for a fully charged battery without powering down the unit. AIO medical computers also power peripherals like barcode scanners and printers, creating an ideal solution for nurse’s carts and rounding. The significant weight reduction afforded by this technology is a benefit for caregivers, increasing their satisfaction. Touch screen computer monitors are cited by nurses as an advantage, helping them focus on patients and not the screen.

Medical Grade Computers
Medical grade AIO computers go through rigorous testing—they are not purchased “off the shelf.” When paired with a nonpowered cart, they create a turnkey solution. To be termed a medical PC, computers must be UL/IEC60601-1 certified as safe for near patient use. Manufacturers should provide documentation proving they adhere to the international standard for electromagnetic and radiation emissions. Another international standard, IP65 certification, denotes protection against liquid and dust penetration, keeping internal components free from damage during disinfection and cleaning.

Medical computers must also be antimicrobial. Users should look for units that have antimicrobial properties baked into the resin during the manufacturing process, protecting it forever. Some manufacturers may apply an antimicrobial coating after the manufacturing process, which will degrade over time.

The AIO medical computers feature ports and expansion slots that allow it to integrate with nearly any device. They can include an integrated barcode scanner, RFID reader and fingerprint scanner secure login, and additional functionality without the need for third-party dongles, or peripherals.

Powered carts, while sometimes necessary, can be an expensive and heavy solution. The physical toll exacted on nurses in the course of doing their jobs, beyond just the workstation, should not be overlooked. Not only do caregivers contend with maneuvering often heavy equipment, they care for patients who are heavier and sicker than ever. In fact, there has been a rise in workplace injuries with an associated increase in unfilled nursing posts projected for the coming years. A nonpowered WOW paired with an AIO computer is a streamlined, efficient and light-weight solution that provides even more opportunity for customization.

Here is a medical computer checklist that highlights features to look for:

  • Certified for near patient use UL/IEC 60601-1 Certified/ EN/IEC 60601-1-2 technical standards/ IP65 rating
  • Antimicrobial coating “baked” in
  • Sealed/non-degrading/waterproof for disinfection
  • Fan-less
  • Noiseless
  • Customizable
  • Single sign on

Key components of a workstation include:

  • Key locking tech bay – universal key or optional key codes available
  • Secure (no drift) positioning with tilt/swivel VESA 75/100 mount
  • Lightweight construction
  • Easy height adjustment – gas spring push button actuation
  • Stable maneuverability
  • Tracking casters for easy mobility
  • Antimicrobial surfaces
  • Accessory portfolio

Benefits Throughout The Process
The implementation of mobile AIO computers is an easier task for IT when it comes to integration into existing systems. No more worry about added hardware to support and manage peripherals on the cart fleet for RFID readers and fingerprint scanners—a common obstacle for IT departments. AIO medical computers make integration easy—just plug in direct to monitor and go—versus cable routing and connecting to inside a tech bay to the power supply.

Nurses’ satisfaction is crucial to effective hospital management and essential for providing top-quality long-term care to patients. The medical technology industry is responding to their calls for more streamlined workstation solutions, with easy-to-integrate, maneuverable components that can be paired with up-to-the minute advanced computers. An AIO computer combined with a nonpowered cart is a problem solver for both nurses and IT alike. When nurses have easier access to the tools needed to provide personalized, fast, and efficient care, it stands to reason patients will be happier and with outcomes and satisfaction rates improving.