Mobile workstations exist so providers can more quickly and efficiently serve patients. With the end goal being a higher level of patient care, the workstation on wheels industry is constantly evolving to serve healthcare workers better so they, in turn, can better serve their patients.
Computer carts on wheels were once revolutionary—the newest piece of equipment for hospitals. Now, companies like Altus, are creating new developments to adapt the original workstations on wheels to be more beneficial to the healthcare industry. Below are ten trends that you can expect to see in the future of portable workstations for healthcare.
1. Powered carts
Mobile workstations in a healthcare setting are a given. In nearly every hospital and most clinics and offices, you’ll find workstations on wheels (WOWs) with a computer and where nurses keep paperwork, medications, and more. With these carts in hospitals, an increasingly popular characteristic is their ability to power the computer.
The battery powered computer cart trend is becoming increasingly popular and is not going anywhere soon. These batteries are rechargeable, with charges lasting full shifts, and allow the computers to function without having to be plugged directly into a wall, offering extra mobility. Battery powered computer workstations will continue to be more popular as they improve workflows and enables providers to focus on the level of care offered rather than how to power their equipment. These types of hospital computer carts also give assurance to hospitals that the carts can be used even in the case of a blackout, or when they’re needed most.
2. State-of-charge indicators
The increased use of powered carts in the healthcare industry has raised the popularity and variation of state-of-charge indicators for cart batteries. State-of-charge indicators present an estimated time remaining in the battery’s life. It takes all guesswork out of the equation as powered laptop carts and LCD carts are moving through several different floors of a hospital.
Many facilities utilize off-site monitoring of their mobile workstations—including battery status. While a universal monitoring system is suitable for many reasons, the provider needs to have hands-on access to determine when a battery needs recharging on their workstation.
3. Protection against splashes and dirt
Medical facilities can be messy; any healthcare worker can attest to that. And when you’re working with valuable medical equipment, you want to take every precaution to ensure you’re protecting it from spills or splashes. With this kind of workstation technology, providers can focus on better caring for patients without worrying about their equipment malfunctioning because of spills or splashes.
4. UV disinfectant
Healthcare facilities and hospitals, specifically, are at risk for cross-contamination of germs and disease, especially when mobile carts and workstations are being carted from one room to the next. One way we’re seeing the industry fight the spread of germs on mobile workstations is through the use of ultraviolet light.
UV light technology is able to disinfect workstations that have had multiple hands on the trays and keyboards, providing a thorough clean that offers more complete removal of germs and contaminants than simply wiping the equipment down.
5. Emphasis on specialty models
Mobile workstations aren’t one-size-fits-all, and the industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs of healthcare providers looking for workstations created specifically for the tools and equipment they utilize in their practices and facilities. Mobile carts aren’t only for laptops or desktops. Specialty carts, like registration carts, are designed specifically to carry and support scanners, printers, signature pads—all of the equipment you’d usually find at a check-in station. Other mobile carts might hold not only a monitor but provide the proper support to utilize specific tools that a provider uses for his or her patients.
Telehealth and virtual visitor carts are additional specialty models that will continue to be used in the coming years. They allow nurses to provide care both remotely and face-to-face and have been used in increased increments since the COVID-19 pandemic. As more hospitals implement telehealth tools in their hospitals, the more benefits they’re seeing. Specialty carts will become more popular the more developments are made.
6. Advanced communication technologies
Most healthcare facilities employ an entire fleet of mobile carts. In 2022, cloud-based software monitors the whereabouts, battery life, and even drawer access, plus important details relating to a facility’s carts. Unlike the carts of 10 or 15 years ago, today’s mobile workstations marry both practical mobile needs as well as technology so that carts are accounted for, no matter where they might be on a hospital floor.
7. Multiple monitors
Mobile workstations are being equipped for more than just a single laptop or screen for record-keeping. Many workstations are now created to support multiple monitors at one time while still preserving their ability to roll to the next location quickly and sturdily. Dual monitor computer carts can increase productivity by as much as 42%. They offer extra space to see information and make EMR charting easier than ever before.
8. Range of motion
This might seem like a given, but the healthcare mobile cart industry is constantly adapting to make workstations and carts easier to move from point A to point B. In a 10-hour shift, a nurse can walk between 3 and 5 miles. Any way that a nurse, doctor, or anyone else pulling a mobile workstation around the floor can save energy is a plus.
Options such as electric lifts, rotating keyboards and keyboard trays, and better caster technology take the physical strain off the healthcare worker and provide a better experience for the provider. They’re able to push the computer cart without feeling fatigued and offer a higher level of care.
9. Bringing the pharmacy to the floor
Mobile workstations aren’t only for note-taking and patient monitoring. Companies are innovating ways to both save time for healthcare workers and ensure more safe and accurate distribution of medications with medication delivery workstations and carts. These workstations help reduce errors and clinician fatigue by bringing all of the medications from the hospital pharmacy to the floor where they’ll be distributed. Utilizing secure locking systems, ergonomic design, and convenient, mobile storage, medication delivery workstations help healthcare workers put more time into patient care.
10. Monitor flexibility
When a doctor is meeting with a patient to explain scans or images, it’s important that everyone in the room has a clear view and can understand what the doctor is trying to explain. As test or scan results show up on the monitor of a mobile workstation, having the option to rotate the screen so the patient can clearly see is crucial. This ensures they can see as the doctor is going over the imaging, so neither doctor nor patient has to worry about huddling around a cart to get a good view of what’s being discussed.
The future of mobile computer workstations will continue to work toward improving clinician workflows. The trends listed above work toward creating a more cohesive technological hospital and making the workdays for healthcare workers easier. Altus creates workstations on wheels that incorporate these trends, along with always improving our current cart offerings. For computer carts that improve workflows, contact Altus today.