Are you tasked with finding a new system-wide medical cart (workstation-on-wheels) solution for your facility? While on the surface medical carts don’t seem that complicated, there are actually quite a few options to consider, including ergonomics, battery runtimes, workspace, ease of navigation and more.
Two Separate Components to Consider
While many in the healthcare community think of a workstation-on-wheels (WoW) as one single unit, it is really two separate components: a cart and a computer. In many instances carts and computers are sold separately, but not always. When making your decision, you need to consider both ergonomics and reliability, and look for components that offer the best of those features. You need to be sure nurses and techs won’t have downtime, and that they aren’t straining their backs or arms when using the carts. You want a solution that is lightweight and manageable with one hand, if necessary, and is easy to keep clean.
Computer Choice is Critical
With all of those things to consider, it’s no wonder that many facilities often fail to factor the importance of the workstation’s computing device into their analysis and recommendations. But, the computer choice should be just as, if not more, important than the cart choice. The whole purpose of the mobile healthcare workstation is to enter and retrieve vital patient data at the point of care. And, while the workstation needs to be ergonomically suited to the user, it also needs to be an extremely reliable and easy-to-use computing device. Off the shelf consumer-grade computers are not always adaptable to the healthcare environment; in addition to not being built to withstand the rigors of the hospital setting, they also consume a lot of power, causing the cart mounted battery to sometimes lose its charge before a shift is over.
Also, consumer-grade computers will not allow for a consistent roll-out to your whole system. If you have a long-term deployment, it is likely that the consumer grade computer you choose will change frequently during your roll-out. As time goes by, your IT staff will be dealing with models that may no longer be available, machines with different motherboards, different configurations and/or different components. Your nursing staff may not care about the brand of the computer you choose — but your IT staff will care about its reliability and ease of deployment. When deploying constantly-changing consumer grade machines across a system, the IT staff has to continually change their set up as they go to configure each machine.
Choose Commercial Grade or Medical Grade Computers
Commercial and medical grade computers offer several big advantages over consumer grade models. Datalux manufactures both commercial grade (Alpha) and medical grade (IPIX) computers that are reliable and easy to use. With an extended platform, consistent configuration for long-term system-wide roll-outs, and a minimum warranty of 3 years, the Alpha and IPIX models are better equipped than consumer grade computers for the healthcare setting. The Alpha commercial and IPIX medical both feature a removable hard drive for data security as well as a variety of Intel wireless connectivity options. Both types offer a wipeable front surface, a touch/non-touch or privacy screen, and use less power than consumer grade computers. Because of this power conservation feature in both the Alpha and IPIX, the cart mounted battery will last much longer during a shift than it would with a consumer grade computer.
The Alpha commercial grade computer is a cost-effective option for some hospital applications; however, the IPIX provides all of the benefits of a truly medical grade computer. The IPIX medical grade computer can handle all of the demands of point-of-care applications while offering superior infection control solutions. With a medical rating IEC60601, the IPIX has completely wipeable surfaces and a fanless operation with no dust harboring vents. It is also entirely sealed except for its connector ports, to prevent contamination and damage.
Specifically designed to work with ergonomic mobile medical carts, the IPIX is easily installed on most carts with a standard VESA mount and is nearly the same size as an LCD display. Datalux partners with a wide variety of mobile cart manufacturers and systems integrators; the IPIX has been successfully installed on a variety of ergonomically designed carts used for patient care documentation, medication dispensing, medical diagnostics and treatment.
Less Downtime is Paramount
Another consideration that should be paramount is reducing downtime for WoW users. When there is a power outage in the middle of caregivers’ shifts, their work can be interrupted suddenly. Not having reliable access to the computer is disruptive to patient care. To fully support healthcare professionals throughout their shifts in clinical settings, a mobile technology computer should be designed for long periods of continued use and should have a reliable back-up battery. Both the Alpha and IPIX use less power than consumer grade computers. Because of this power conservation feature in both the Alpha and IPIX, the cart mounted battery will last much longer during a shift than it would with a consumer grade computer. The medical grade IPIX also has an internal battery option which allows it to stay operational when the cart battery either fails or is being recharged or changed/swapped.
Many WoW systems pair ergonomic carts with less than optimal computers. Or, the battery runs out too soon and too often, causing more downtime. Choosing a cart and computer separately for your workstation on wheels gives you much more flexibility in designing the optimal situation for your employees and your patients.