It can be overwhelming to try to pick a computer workstation that fits into a hospital’s workflow and meets every need a healthcare system has. With countless options in every category, choosing between a mobile medical computer cart or a wall-mounted workstation can drastically affect the productivity and overall happiness of you and your staff.
Picking a workstation that is built to promote efficiency, is cost-effective, durable, and comfortable for clinicians while working is the goal of every hospital system. But knowing what kind to pick is the real question. Keep reading for the ultimate guide on how to know what kind of point-of-care workstation is right for you and your hospital.
Advantages of a mobile workstation
Mobile medical computer carts can offer a great amount of flexibility — they allow you to move from one room to the next freely. They also integrate technology at the point of care because everything required for the task is in one place. With medical workstations being able to integrate to direct point-of-care, they also promote patient engagement because the clinician can easily adjust the screen for optimal patient viewing.
Clinicians can also easily adjust the height of a mobile workstation for optimal ergonomics. The optimal ergonomic strategy has been shown to cut costs, prevent injuries, and promote better performance. Ergonomics goes beyond just the health and safety of your staff, but the patient’s health as well. In addition to their ergonomic design, mobile medical computer carts can have added features such as a lighter design to make movement easier on the clinician, and different choices of caster to make sure they can trek over any flooring in your hospital.
Disadvantages of a mobile computer cart
While workstations on wheels bring several advantages, they can lead to some issues that wall-mounted workstations will not experience. The first is, because they are so easily moved, they can often be left in the wrong places making them hard to find, or other departments could “borrow” them leaving one less computer workstation on the floor. While this is a major disadvantage to any type of mobile medical computer cart, implementing an RTLS asset tracking program can easily keep track of the location of every cart in a hospital, taking away the pain points of “find time”.
Ergonomics is one of the main selling points of workstations on wheels, but if the carts are too heavy they can cause major physical and mental strain on your staff. Computers, monitors, and any added accessories can start to add up in weight. Too much weight on a powered cart can lead to injuries and burnout in nurses.
Medical computer carts also bring an added obstacle to ensuring your hospital has sufficient WiFi. Since the workstations on wheels work wirelessly rather than using ethernet, the internet connection has to be strong and fast enough to allow clinicians to be connected to it no matter where they are in the hospital.
Advantages of a wall-mounted workstation
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of a wall-mounted station is that staff will always know exactly where it’s located — since it can’t be moved to a different room. A clinician is able to walk into a patient’s room and immediately begin working on the computer in the room if needed. It also lowers the chances of cross-contamination since the workstation is unable to move from room to room.
Sanitization and disinfecting are made to be easy with this style of computer workstation. Everything can be left in the patient’s room and wiped as each clinician comes to use the workstation, making them the best option for isolation units or containing highly contagious viruses
In recent years, hospitals have been a large target for data hacks and security breaches. Wall-mounted workstations can help lower this risk since they don’t use a wireless system. Wall mounts provide a safe and secure option to protect both your facility and patients.
Disadvantages of bedside wall-mounts
While a set location can be overall positive for many facilities, it also limits how the workstation can be used. A wall-mounted computer workstation cannot be transferred to a direct point of care and if the workstation has any technical difficulties the room is useless until the workstation can get repaired rather than being able to just switch it out.
Another possible disadvantage of wall-mounts is that you will likely need more workstations. Since a mounted station can’t travel from room to room, each room might need its own bedside workstation. More equipment means more money as well as installation costs associated with wall-mounts — but sometimes those extra costs are best for your department and the patients they serve.
Before you decide, take it step by step
Now that you know the pros and cons of each type of computer workstation, it’s time to evaluate what’s most important to your staff by asking the following questions:
- Do you need your workstation to be mobile?
If yes, then a mobile cart will be your best option. Clinicians will be able to easily move from one room to the next without having to worry about wires or desktops, all the while knowing everything needed is within arm’s reach.
- Do you need a workstation that can remain unplugged for an entire shift?
Wall-mounted workstations require a constant power source in order to operate, meaning there are limited options of where it can be placed in a room, and in the event of a power outage, they become unusable. Non-powered and powered computer carts offer ways to use technology without worrying about having to be plugged into work.
- What type of technology will your staff be using?
If your staff prefers laptops and tablets, then supplying mobile computer carts is the best option. If your staff prefers monitors or desktop computers, then wall mounts are the better option. Likewise with powered and non-powered options, if your staff prefers the computer to last an entire shift without charging, either a wall-mounted or powered computer is your best option.
- Do you always need to have the triangle of care?
Direct patient care can be accomplished with all workstations if set up properly. However, the best option is a powered cart so you can always be mobile and travel easily from room to room.
- Does it need to be in an isolation unit?
An optimal isolation unit computer workstation doesn’t leave the room due to sanitary and safety reasons. If the workstation will be in an isolation unit, it should be wall-mounted.
- How often does technology need to be replaced?
Replacing or servicing your workstations is inevitable. With wall-mounts you need to shut down the entire room for servicing, but mobile carts, both powered and non-powered, can easily be swapped out without closing the room.
- Are multiple points of adjustability important?
With ergonomics in mind, seamless adjustability is very important. With mobile carts, you can adjust the keyboard tilt, height, monitor height, and tilt. Wall-mounts are stationary and the only adjustable part is the overall height.
Weigh all of your options
So which is better, a mobile or wall-mounted computer workstation? There is no one right answer. Both offer a variety of advantages and unique solutions to promote efficiency in your facility. This decision should be based on the needs of your facility, workflow, ergonomic requirements, and patient requirements. If you’d like further guidance, feel free to contact Altus to help work through your hospital’s workflow needs, and then discuss providing an evaluation sample.