It's no doubt that medical carts have given healthcare facilities tremendous benefits in healthcare management and providing better patient care. With real-time data entry, the staff can produce an accurate and updated record of the medications being filled and administered, resulting in a more stable, efficient, and streamlined workflow that eliminates stress and second-guessing. Additionally, with all the time freed from manually managing medication, nurses are given more time to care for their patients.
Medical carts come in a wide variety of customizations. However, there are four key features that each model has: ergonomics, mobility, quality of steering, and its power supply. Before you select any cart for your healthcare facility, it's vital to understand how those features affect your processes and workflow. Once you get a good understanding of each feature, then you can determine the customizations your specific medical cart should need.
In this buyer's guide, we'll help you choose the right medical cart for your facility by giving you an in-depth explanation of how each feature benefits your workflow. We hope that you can introduce medical equipment in your facility that improves efficiency, makes your staff happier, and enhances overall healthcare service quality.
Mobility and Ergonomics
Healthcare staff—primarily nurses—are at risk of developing musculoskeletal conditions due to the poor designs of computer equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rolled out a list of general standards that helps healthcare facilities provide ergonomic solutions to their staff. To keep the nurses comfortable when working with their medical carts, we're indicating the number of features below that help with mobility and ergonomics.
More than one nurse can use a medical cart. Thus, it's necessary to ensure that the wagon can be height adjusted to ensure that each nurse maintains the correct posture to reduce fatigue. To prevent additional strain, altering the elevation shouldn't be as difficult.
Manual vs. Motorized
When it comes to height adjusting, opting for a motorized solution is the better option. Just one push of the button is needed to adjust the height of your medical cart.
A manual adjustable height is still a valid option. However, it's best to test it out and see how much effort it requires before reaching the desired elevation.
Regardless of what mechanism you choose for your medical cart, what matters is that your staff can easily adjust their workstation's height for proper typing posture and neutral eye level.
Having enough space to place equipment and other items is also a nice feature for your medical cart. A wide enough workstation helps your nurses get more things done in a lesser amount of time. For example, they can administer medication, obtain physical records, and collect bloodwork all at the same time without hassle.
Keyboard Tray Adjustment
Ensure that your medical cart's keyboard tray has no tilt to encourage comfortable wrist position and arm posture for better typing and less strain and fatigue.
Let's not forget that nurses do their rounds during the night as well. It can be a nuisance for the patient when the staff still needs to turn their room light on during their follow-ups. To lessen these incidents, consider having your workstation with adequate backlighting to provide an eye-friendly working environment. Make sure that there's backlighting on their keyboard as well.
Cart Handles and Maneuverability
Medical carts are transportable from one place to the other. But the power to do so comes from the nursing staff pushing and pulling it around. Ensure that the cart has handles to prevent your nurses from suffering back pains, fatigue, and other sustainable injuries from maneuvering their workstation.
Handles on One Side vs. Both Sides
Sometimes, the handles on the cart also indicate whether or not it's easy to maneuver. It's crucial to ensure that your chosen medical cart has handles on both sides to make it easier to move around, especially when the terrain might be rough.
Yes, you should also even consider the type of wheels on your medical cart. Large castor wheels have the best performance as they glide smoothly on almost any surface. These wheels also make the cart easier to maneuver because they require less force to move. They also make the workstation easier to control, preventing bumps and accidents along the way.
Wires can be nuisances and have the potential to cause injury to others. Improper cable management could cause staff or even a patient to trip over the wires. Consider a medical cart with coiled or spiral wires, which prevent dirt and dust from accumulating, making the cart more sanitary.
In addition to better maneuverability, large castor wheels work better when you also consider the weight of your medical cart.
Lighter vs. Heavier
Most people would think that opting for a lighter workstation makes it easier to transport. However, that perception is not always the best option. A lightweight cart is more prone to sliding out of control when transporting. Choosing a workstation that has more weight in it offers better control for better maneuverability.
Considering your monitor's mobility is also a winning factor in choosing the right medical cart for your facility. Essentially, it lessens the neck strain on your staff when looking at the monitor for prolonged periods. This function is also beneficial when the nurse shows information to their patients while conversing with them.
A suitable range to look for monitor tilt flexibility should go from 24 degrees up to 180 degrees. Having this functionality allows you to quickly adjust the monitor against glares for better viewing and lesser eye strain.
A suitable range to look for monitor pan flexibility should go from 25 degrees up to 180 degrees. Having this functionality allows you to turn the screen for both the staff and the patient to see.
There are some features and distinct parts that are only available when requested. A customizable medical cart allows facilities to modify specific components to make the final product more suitable for your needs. When choosing a medical workstation, make sure you can remove, add, and change different elements to cater to your workflow.
Nurses have to bring various equipment and other things with them. Because of this, it's better to consider having a different space to store other items. These containers may or may not need to be locked, and that all depends on what your staff uses daily.
Give your staff a more spacious area to work in by adding storage compartments for essential items such as a mouse holder, disinfectant holder, and glove box compartment. You can also consider more sections for your other essentials as you see fit.
A medical cart is for efficiently transporting patient medication without worrying about medication mismanagement and errors. This feature is undoubtedly the most crucial component to consider as the patient medication is more prone to mishandling and misplacement.
To prevent these unlikely situations from happening, always choose a medical cart that automatically locks after retrieving the needed medication. Another helpful feature is only allowing authorized personnel to access the medicine, such as the nurses and pharmacists, by adding a secure biometric scanner.
Waste and Disposal of Hazardous Material
An optional but beneficial feature to look for is a disposal bin for medical waste to maintain patient and staff safety.
Having a camera for video calls is a feature beneficial for online consultations. Although a telehealth camera is not a must for medical carts, here are the functions that you need to consider when you need one:
When it comes to consultations, you can't sacrifice quality. To ensure that your facility maintains the best quality telehealth service, opt for a web camera with at least high definition video quality.
Tilt and Pan
Your medical cart's web camera should have the option to pan and tilt up to 170 degrees. These functionalities will give you and your patients a better field of view when on call.
In some instances, doctors would need to zoom in to be able to show relevant information. To keep up with these situations, get a web camera that offers at least 5x zoom without sacrificing the video quality.
You can also add more compartments to store additional accessories if any. These storages will free up even more space for your workstation. You can choose to have extra slots for the following accessories:
- Barcode scanners
- Extender plates
- CPU holders
- Utility shelves
- IV fusion kits
- Power strips
- Camera shelves
- Dual monitor bar
Since they're mobile, medical carts are for traveling from patient to patient. So sanitation is a must as you have to protect your next patient from possible germs, bacteria, and other infections. Get a workstation with compartments for sanitation fluids, wipes, and gloves.
Once fully utilized, your staff will use their medical carts all day, every day. Like any piece of technology, a medical workstation either runs on power or batteries. The battery needs to be able to last the whole day as it travels from patient to patient. In addition to that, a medical cart holds vital information and equipment that, when out of power, will render itself completely useless. When looking for a reliable workstation, get one with a battery level indicator, so your staff can monitor their cart's power.
At TouchPoint Medical, we offer an option between lithium-iron nano phosphate (Li-Nano) or lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFe). Both have excellent performance and offer long-term financial savings.
There will be times when your staff focus too much at work that they forget to check their battery level indicator. A battery notification that warns them when it's at a certain level that requires charging is a lifesaver.
Some carts have additional software that offers remote monitoring. Remote monitoring allows the IT department to look at all battery levels from your facility, which is also helpful for carts at risk of needing a battery change.
Medical Compliance Near-Patient Use and Medical Device Integrations
These medical carts will go near patients, and some patients have medical devices attached to or into them. Ensure that your medical workstation meets the technical safety standards that prevent interference with any medical equipment to keep the patient safe from medical equipment malfunction.
As your new medical workstations will be in an environment with strict sanitation protocols, it's a critical feature to ensure that your cart can withstand cleaning solutions. Constant sanitation of the workstation plus its accessories will help reduce any germs or bacteria lurking on the surfaces. A fanless medical cart is also another beneficial feature as it prevents dust and debris from spreading around the area.
Warranty and Technical Support Warranty
With extensive use, medical carts will require maintenance. Warranties vary from two to five years. Here at TouchPoint Medical, we offer a 5-year comprehensive mechanical warranty for all of our medical solutions. The support for batteries varies depending on the type you choose. Extended warranty options are available through our TouchPoint Medical Enhanced Services Program.
It's inevitable to need technical support now and then. Even your IT department cannot solve all of the issues of a medical workstation, especially if it's something the facility has never worked with before. TouchPoint Medical offers 24-hour technical and customer support for your needs.
Choosing a Medical Cart For Your Facility: Final Overview
Choosing a medical cart for your facility requires more than understanding specifications and unique features. At the end of the day, how beneficial a medical workstation will be is up to the people who will use it the most: your staff. Even without technical knowledge, improving efficiency and reducing risks are the top priorities of investing in a medical cart. Above all, your workstations should be mobile, reliable, easy to use, functional, and able to withstand the environment of a healthcare facility.
Introducing a medical cart in your healthcare facility can be a daunting experience at first. However, the goal of implementing this step is to provide more efficient patient care. With the right features, a medical workstation can turn into a piece of irreplaceable equipment in your practice. Your staff will become happier, more at ease, more efficient, and will feel more secure that their patients are receiving quality healthcare with the help of technology.
About TouchPoint Medical
TouchPoint Medical is an award-winning equipment provider that aims to partner technology with healthcare providers for more effective and efficient patient care. Our primary focus is to prioritize better medication management to reduce and eventually eliminate any risks related to medication mismanagement and errors. We aim to be a leading and trusted global partner that provides customer-driven healthcare solutions for healthcare providers and patients.