How to Choose the Right Workstation for Your Hospital
By Team Altus
Published Mar 19, 2020
| Updated Mar 29, 2023
| 8 min read
Point of care carts, workstation on wheels (WOWs), mobile medical carts, operating room carts, and laptop carts are just some of the titles hospital workstations go by. Between powered, non-powered, medication delivery carts, and wall-mounted workstations – there are a lot of options to choose from.
Sifting through the countless options, configurations, and added accessories choosing the best hospital mobile workstation for your hospital’s workflow is not easy. To make the process easy, follow this how-to guide and start creating the perfect medical workstation for your hospital.
Choosing the Best Hospital Mobile Workstation
When beginning the search for a medical computer cart to improve your hospital’s workflow, the start is the hardest part. Use this simple 8-Point checklist to guide you in the right direction of what ergonomically designed workstation is best for you.
Powered vs Non-Powered vs Wall-Mount
Fit Individual Workflows
Service & Support
1. Technology type
It is important to ensure that clinicians have a way to document EHRs in a way that works best for them and their patients. The workstation should fit into the clinician’s preferred choice of computing hardware or technology. The more aligned the computer workstation is, the more productive and maximize computer uptime.
The most popular types of technology workstations include:
Laptop Carts: These types feature various worksurface sizes that can accommodate a host of laptop sizes. They allow nurses ample space to place their laptops, keyboards, papers, or any other accessories. In addition, there are also locking laptop carts to secure the worksurface. These carts are flexible and adaptable so nurses can be comfortable while working.
Medical PC Carts: These are great for patient communication, clinician comfort, and flexibility. The monitor offers a front/back swivel, height adjustment, and a tilt to fit any clinician using it. When looking into these, the most important factor is to make sure the computer cart can handle the LCD monitor’s size.
Bedside Wall-Mounts: Bedside wall-mounts allow nurses to combine a compact design with a complete triangle of care. Wall-mounted workstations can fold up to 10” from a wall taking up little space inside already cramped hospital rooms, while also offering a full swivel so nurses can easily share the information on their screen. For this option, the biggest aspect to take note of is its lack of mobility. It can be mounted to one wall only and cannot accompany nurses from room to room.
Telemedicine Carts: For telehealth workflows and virtual rounding, tablet carts are a perfect choice. They allow for a lightweight option so clinicians can wheel it into a separate room to conduct visits, or push it next to a patient’s bed so they can communicate with their families instantly.
2. Powered vs Non-Powered vs. Wall-Mount
Battery Powered hospital computer carts are best for EMR data entry and documentation when carts need to be mobile and not tied to a wall plug. They’re also the better choice if continuous power is needed to ensure the computer hardware and accessories will last an entire shift.
For workflows that include medication delivery and the need for added security, powered carts become the solution. They can easily transform an LCD cart into a medication delivery trolley with locking drawers. Medication delivery carts provide the security nurses need when distributing various medications across a hospital flow, and help keep medication errors to a minimum.
Non-powered mobile workstations are a lower-cost solution best for workflows that require mobility but offer enough downtime to charge the technology. They offer the same height adjustment as battery powered computer carts and offer a wide range of accessories so every need is met.
Wall-mounted workstations are best for hospitals that are tight on space, still need an ergonomic design, or have one computer for one patient is necessary. Bedside wall-mounts take away the “find time” that is associated with computers on wheels since nurses always know where they are.
3. Fit individual workflows
In any hospital, it’s important to fit the equipment to each clinician’s unique workflow as it can increase productivity, enhance patient care and save your hospital money.
Consider room and floor layouts throughout your hospital. How much foot traffic or space a room has is another major aspect to take a look at. Would it be easier for your clinic nurse to roll a battery-powered workstation from room to room, or would it be better to have a stationary wall-mounted workstation? The medical computer workstation should improve the flow for nurses in patients’ rooms, not impede them.
When it comes to specific job functions, a medical-surgical nurse would likely prefer a powered medication delivery cart with lots of drawers. While a phlebotomist would prefer a cart with more accessories like bins and sharps containers that are specific to aiding their work tasks. It’s important to have a mix of workstations and to make sure to match each individual workstation on wheels to the clinician using it.
4. Workstation features
Tailoring a workstation on wheels to fit into every clinician’s workflow is made easier by looking at the computer cart’s features and compatible accessories. With height adjustability, electric lifts, and positionable monitors, each workstation already comes equipped with several feature options. Any additional features needed come down to the healthcare faculty’s tasks.
For nurses that have several medication delivery rounds, drawers are crucial for staying organized. With locking and unlocking options, they offer added security so no nurse needs to worry. Any clinician that makes rounds at night would benefit from light on their workstation so they can see their work no matter where they are. Extra features to meet the needs of several different clinicians can be met by adding baskets, shelves, barcode holders, and more.
Secure software applications exist to monitor and manage your fleet of workstations. These software options offer help in monitoring cart location with RTLS healthcare solutions and monitoring batteries.
Utilize software that provides real-time alerts with battery and charging levels, battery life, overload alarms, low battery warning, service diagnostics, and alarm history. A simple dashboard that can be managed at the workstation and remotely works best for team management. Software dedicated to your workstation's power can help reduce cart downtown and improve battery life expectancy.
Monitoring Location & Acess
RTLS companies offer software that not only provides the location of every mobile workstation you have in your hospital but can also give utilization rates. Keeping you in the know of how well the workstations are fitting into your hospital’s workflow allows for easy maintenance to be scheduled on the fleet of computer workstations.
Not only does nursing can take a toll on the body but ergonomic-related injuries account for $20 billion in worker’s compensation costs each year. One way to mitigate long-term damage is through an ergonomic work environment.
Each workstation should have features that are easy and quick to adjust based on the user’s ergonomic requirements. Included casters on workstations on wheels should be ultra-smooth and have easy mobility over any surface. The workstation should easily height adjust to 48” from the floor while standing and 25” while sitting to satisfy the wide range of clinician and caregiver heights. Lastly, monitors and keyboards should be able to tilt, swivel and height adjust to fit each clinician to prevent and reduce caregiver musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
What your workstation is made of can have a significant impact on not only durability but clinician satisfaction. Choosing medical computer carts that are made from durable materials rather than mostly plastic offer a better return on investment.
Computer carts made from aluminum are lightweight yet sturdy for constant years of use. They offer a strong enough built to handle years of use and keep the smooth sleek design that clinicians love. Aluminum-built carts also offer easy-to-clean workstations so healthcare workers can feel comfortable knowing they were able to properly sanitize their equipment before and after use.
8. Support & service
You did it! You’ve landed on a workstation with all the features your hospital needs to run effectively. The last step to choosing the best hospital mobile workstation is checking the provider has a support and service team that is able to help with any potential issues or questions that may arise.
Some questions to ask when looking at a provider include:
Does the manufacturer stand behind their product with a top-notch standard warranty?
Is the product going to last?
How quick are lead times, especially if I need a custom product?
What does the implementation process look like?
What does support look like?
Once you ask all of these questions, and they fit into what you are looking for in a technology workstation partner, you’ve found your match.
Choosing the right workstations for your hospital is an important decision and investment that should last for years. While it’s a big decision, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. For additional guidance on how to choose the right workstation for your hospital, or for an evaluation sample, contact Altus today.