9 Ergonomic Workstation Features Hospitals Might Not Know About
By Team Altus
Published Jul 02, 2019
| Updated Oct 17, 2022
| 5 min read
Ergonomic workstations have become a staple in healthcare environments. These types of medical carts are designed to fit the clinician who uses them and nurture a safe and healthy workspace.
When Altus began manufacturing our powered and non-powered carts, the study of ergonomics was at the forefront to ensure every cart created a comfortable workstation for healthcare workers. During this process, we found 9 key ergonomic features these types of workstations have that many hospitals are not aware of, which lead to a better work environment. Keep reading to find out what they are, and to ensure your hospital’s medical carts have these features.
Ergonomic features to look out for
The typing area for any medical PC cart or laptop cart is one of the most important areas. Due to the large amounts of data clinicians have to input into electronic medical records (EMRs), they can quickly feel fatigued from typing for too long. In a computer on wheels, the keyboard area should feature a tilt and a wrist rest. The tilt should be between 0 and -15 degrees to allow for the best ergonomic angle when typing and keep clinicians from tiring while typing. The wrist rest allows for frequent breaks. These features combined with straight wrists keep clinicians from experiencing fatigue.
Moving down the computer cart on wheels, the next feature hospitals may not be aware of, is the mousing area. The platform is where clinicians spend several hours per shift clicking through patient records. Pain can be felt in the wrist and up the arm when they are not designed to be ergonomic. In ergonomic workstations, the mousing platform should be stable, attached to the worksurface so it can match the height of the clinicians using the cart, and have the option to be ambidextrous to fit any clinician’s preferences. These combine together to offer more comfort while clinicians input data into electronic health records (EHRs).
The worksurface is perhaps the most important factor in creating a comfortable workspace and an ergonomic workstation. Having ample space to have needed equipment on the worksurface and still have enough space for the computer monitor to be present and used for EMRs is imperative. This allows clinicians to move quicker and gives them more space to work. Cramped working conditions can lead to muscle pain in the hands, and lead to potentially dropping medical equipment. With a larger worksurface, this can be prevented.
4. Monitor support
Clinicians use monitors on powered carts for more than just EHR charting. They also use it to show their patients information. For this reason, ergonomic workstations have the monitor an arm’s length away for easy movement. They also offer a swivel, tilt, and additional height adjustment. Being able to tilt the monitor up or down, and using additional height adjustment, clinicians can position the monitor so the top of it is at their eye level and around 20 inches above the worksurface. The swivel allows clinicians to easily position the monitor to face where they are or to quickly consult with their patients.
5. Accessory capabilities
Ample accessory options and equipment space on the workstations are another feature hospitals may not consider. Having the option to put accessories on a mobile cart can create a specific home for needed equipment such as bar code scanners, printers, medication, and more. Each item has its own spot, giving clinicians more space on the worksurface. Rounding carts that have accessory capabilities also keep all equipment in the arm’s reach of a clinician. There is no need to bend or reach and potentially experience a work-related musculoskeletal disorder.
6. Height adjustability
In any given hospital, there are numerous clinicians who may use a computer cart on wheels. Having the workstation be able to match the height of any staff member using it can keep them from feeling the effects of fatigue. Medical computer carts should offer at least 16 inches of height adjustment to meet the height needs of anyone ranging from the 5th - the 95th percentile.
7. Mobility of the computer car
The push/pull factors of any medical cart have a large impact on the ergonomic features. If a workstation is not built with casters that can support it, then clinicians can potentially hurt themselves trying to move it from patient to patient. Choosing a hospital computer cart with heavy-duty dual-wheel casters is the best option. It ensures clinicians are able to move their workstations with minimal effort and strain on their bodies.
8. Cart materials
The materials used to construct the workstation are one of the most obvious ergonomic features. When built with lightweight, yet durable, materials such as die-cast aluminum, it’s easier to move. Weight on mobile workstations can quickly add up, leading to more strain on clinicians' bodies. Having workstations engineered to be as lightweight as possible can make a world of difference for clinicians.
9. Cart handle
An easily overlooked, yet important, aspect of the medical computer on wheels is the location and position of a cart handle. The handle is what clinicians use when moving their workstations from room to room. Having a handle designed to encourage proper position can keep clinicians from experiencing wrist or hand pain while bringing their equipment from one patient’s bedside to another.
Altus manufactures ergonomic medical carts to improve the way clinicians work so they can focus on offering the best level of care possible. We know ergonomics matters in healthcare and designed our workstations around it. Contact us today to learn more about the ergonomic features of our computer workstations, and how they can assist clinicians in their day-to-day responsibilities.