News Feature | August 28, 2014

Improving Healthcare Workflows Through The Mobile Cart

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Mobile Cart

Mobile workstations in hospitals are bringing with them an entirely new range of benefits, according to HealthIT Outcomes. VARs working in the areas of bar code scanners, batteries, EHR software, and mobility will want to take notice of the potential applications to their clients’ practices.

A New Facility

MaineGeneral Medical Center took on a major project when it built its new, $312 million, 192-bed facility in 2013.

They set out to go beyond just updating their architecture, to taking on broad technological upgrades as well. EHR accessibility was at the forefront of those upgrades. The facility wanted to make sure that the 16 minute lag that EHR completion brought with it wasn’t weighing down workflow, so they looked to a company called Ergotron, and their workstations on wheels (WOWs). (Learn more about bridging the gap between bar code and EHR here.)

More Than Just Laptops

The old facility had been retrofitted with wall-mounted cabinets to accommodate bedside charting, but the system was still awkward, unreliable, inefficient, and expensive.

“We knew it would be more expensive, but decided to look at a solution that would allow nurses to move the unit throughout the room. That way, nurses could position it on either side, depending on whether they were right- or left-handed. That was the beauty of the room mockups; everything could be tested for physical fit while still in the design phase,” said Administrative Director Of Technology Services, Mark St. John.

Eventually, the facility outfitted every patient room with a WOW. While the carts are mobile, they decided against sharing carts between rooms because staff wanted consistent access to them. (Sharing also increases the risk of spreading infection).

The Selection Process

To find the right fit, MaineGeneral invited vendors from three different cart manufacturers, giving the staff a chance to try each one out. Ergotron’s StyleView medical Cart was selected because it allowed nurses the ability to raise and lower the carts easily to different heights.

Staff Reaction

Staff members have reacted positively to the carts, no doubt because they were involved in the customization and selection process.

They selected large, high-resolution monitors that swivel 180 degrees and also include a light, so that nurses don’t have to worry about turning the light on at night. The carts also have built in features to promote battery life — they are programmed to send an alert to IT staff when batteries are running low so nurses can be notified that they need to be charged. They are also used by physicians to pull up X-rays through an imaging system for viewing at the patient bedside.