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How to Choose the Right Workstation for Your Hospital

By Team Altus | Published Mar 19, 2020 | 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, and medication delivery carts, and wall-mounted workstations – there are a lot of options to choose from.

Choosing the Best Workstation for Healthcare

Given the flexibility of options, selecting the most applicable medical workstation for your hospital can seem cumbersome. Don’t fret.

Use this simple 9-point checklist to easily guide you in the right direction of which workstation is best for you.

  1. Technology Type
  2. Powered vs Non-Powered vs Wall-Mount
  3. Fit to Workflow / Clinician Specialty
  4. Workstation Features
  5. Battery
  6. Software
  7. Ergonomics
  8. Materials
  9. Service & Support

1. Technology Type

It is important to ensure that clinicians have a way to document that works best for them and their patients. Choose a workstation that works with your preferred choice of computing hardware or technology and that is proven to maximize your overall computer uptime.

Laptop carts feature a large worksurface that can accommodate a host of laptops sizes.

Locking laptop carts feature a lockable worksurface or cable to keep your technology secure. Here it is important to make sure your laptop size can fit within the security system.

LCD PC carts are great for patient communication, clinician comfort, and easy sightseeing while traveling from room to room because the monitor can tilt, swivel and height adjust all without tangling cords. Here it’s important to make sure the workstation will support your LCD’s size and weight.

All-in-one PC carts are likely to have the same benefits as LCD PC carts but are usually designed to hold heavier monitors due to the heavier computer hardware.

Mobile device and tablet carts accommodate a wide variety of tablet solutions. This is great for clinicians because it gives them the flexibility to have a device within reach that results in easier documentation.

2. Powered vs Non-Powered vs Wall-Mount

Powered

Powered mobile workstations are best for EMR data entry and documentation when carts need to be mobile and not tied to a wall plug, and when you need continuous power to ensure your computer hardware and accessories will last an entire shift.

Shop Powered Carts

Shop Powered Medication Delivery Carts

Non-Powered

Non-powered mobile workstations are a lower-cost solution best for when you still need your cart to be mobile, if you have enough downtown to let your computer charge during a shift, when you can plug in your laptop or computer every few hours, and if your laptop’s power can last an entire shift without needing to be charged. One mobile cart can often replace several fixed units.

Shop Non-Powered Carts

Wall-Mount

Wall-mounted workstations are a lower-cost solution best for when you need one designated workstation to one patient or unit, when you have don’t have floor space to lose and when you still want to access sit-to-stand height adjustment. Wall-mounted workstations provide the optimal triangle of care between the patient, clinician, and technology.

Shop Wall-Mounted Workstations

3. Fit to Workflow / Clinician Specialty

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 your room and floor layouts. 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 wall-mounted workstation in a setting such as ICU? A medical-surgical nurse would likely prefer a powered medication delivery cart with lots of drawers. A phlebotomist would prefer a cart with more accessories like bins and IV poles that are specific to aiding their work tasks.

It’s important to ensure that you have the right mix of carts to match your clinician workflows and cart to clinician ratio.

4. Workstation Features

Drawers are crucial for staying organized and keeping supplies and medication on the go. Choose a drawer that meets your storage needs such as individually locking and electronically labeled drawers. Decide if you need your drawers unlocked or locked for extra security. Organizational bins that fit into your drawers also increase organization. Look for a cart that has ergonomic side access and full visibility of drawers with removable bins to reduce bending.

View Drawers

Shop Medication Delivery Drawers

When looking at monitor support, it’s important to think about both clinician comfort and the patient experience. Look for monitor support that can swivel, rotate, tilt and height adjust at a wide range. The monitor supports usually hold a certain size and weight limit.

Keyboard traysare a common break/fix issue and a built-in breakaway hinge is key. opt for a one-piece keyboard tray with a soft wrist rest that pulls out smoothly from the cart and can tilt for ultimate ergonomic comfort. Keyboard trays should accommodate left or right mousing. LED keyboard or worksurface lights are helpful when it comes to data entry in a dark room.

Worksurface size becomes important if you are looking for just a laptop cart vs looking for a laptop cart that can also have enough space for your mouse.

Built-in accessoriescan streamline workflows. Does your cart have the accessories clinicians need to perform work tasks on the go, without going to the supply room or heading back to the nurse station? Mount baskets, shelves, bar code holders and more to customize your workstation.

View Accessories

5. Battery

Battery-powered carts keep your workflow flexible and uninterrupted.

The majority of powered workstations on the market utilize lithium iron phosphate to protect and serve both clinicians and patients. lithium iron phosphate’s battery technology is the most durable, reliable and safest battery technology available. Some of its benefits being a longer battery life cycle, quick charging time and lightweight build.

Pro-tip: Select a cart that has easy access to self-service batteries and that protects against battery-involved fires.

To charge a battery, there are two flexible solutions to choose from.

  1. Plug in the cart. Maintain an uninterrupted workflow using onboard charging through wall outlet power. The system powers both the technology components and recharges the battery simultaneously.
  2. Swappable power. Go cordless through swappable batteries. Simply replace a depleted battery with a fully charged one.

Power your medical card with the right battery system that will allow your clinicians to spend more time on patients and less time on technology.

6. Software

Secure software applications exist to monitor and manage your fleet of workstations.

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

There is software that not only provides service diagnostics but can predict service issues before they occur. Monitoring software keeps track of your inventory by showing pinpoints on your facility’s map. You can access and download reports on usage patterns, drawer access and more.

7. Ergonomics

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. Only then can the user perform tasks comfortably and efficiently.

Monitors and keyboardsshould be able to tilt, swivel and height adjust to fit each clinician to prevent and reduce caregiver muscular-skeletal disorders (MSD) and cumulative trauma disorders (CTD).

Casters have a big impact on rolling resistance which results in strain for the user. Choose ultra-smooth casters that have easy mobility over any surface and over bumps.

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.

Download our eBook: The Science of Place: Ergonomics and its Impact on Nurses

8. Materials

What your workstation is made of can have a significant impact on not only durability but clinician satisfaction.

Aluminum built workstations are lightweight yet sturdy for constant years of use. The smooth, sleek, easy to clean surface is a crowd-pleaser.

Plastic built workstations easily crack and are likely to be painted which eventually will chip. Well-designed workstations will keep plastic parts to a minimum, as they are unavoidable.

Cart hygiene plays an important role in creating a healthy work environment. Carts should be made of materials that are easy to clean and sterilize with hospital approved cleaners. There should be no sharp corners or materials that can crack or flake.

Download our Infographic: Medical Workstation Cleaning Guide

9. Support & Service

You did it! You’ve landed on a workstation with all the bells and whistles you’re looking for. Now, do you have everything you could want in your technology workstation provider?

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • 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?

Conclusion:

Choosing the right mix of workstations for your hospital is an important decision and investment that should last for years. Keep these 9 points in mind during your search for the right workstation for your hospital.

As always, Altus is happy to help. For a sneak peek to see what it’s like to work with Altus – check out our implementation process.

We’re offering free evaluation samples of any Altus workstation. Request a sample here!

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