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State-of-the-cart smarts – From

June 7, 2018

Repost on cartadvocate from Healthcare Purchasing News

Speaking of medical carts here is a nicely done article. While it is from 2015 – some of the technology trends are even more relevant today than they were then.

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State-of-the-cart smarts

Workstation ergonomics, convenience and performance factor into every detail

by Valerie J. Dimond

Today’s healthcare workers (HCWs) are shouldering more responsibility and pressure than ever before. In order to succeed they need the best tools and resources available — and that includes a variety of well-designed carts and workstations that are functional, adaptable, and ergonomically engineered for comfort and safety.

“With ever-increasing efficiency requirements, the well-being of healthcare personnel is key to delivering high quality care and achieving the desired results,” said Eric Dotson, General Manager at Sovella, a workstation and modular furniture provider in GA. “Healthcare professionals need work spaces that are easy to clean, organized and tailored to their individual needs. Workers need a workstation that is easy to use, move and adjust, in order to concentrate on the patient and the nursing work. Good ergonomics improve working comfort and reduces absences due to illness, consequently improving productivity and creating considerable savings.”

Sovella Treatment Medi-Cart with accessories

Workstations that really work

Dotson says Sovella designs its lightweight, mobile workstations and carts with those and other considerations in mind. “Sovella workstations and carts can be organized using accessories, such as bins, creating a system that is perfect for hospitals, where order and the ability to find the right item are paramount,” he said. “This also allows for stations to be tailored to individual worker’s needs. Sovella tables and carts are easily cleaned and organized. Less time is spent searching or reaching for items, saving time while working with patients.” They’re also designed to adapt to changing needs and evolving healthcare processes, says Dotson. “This makes their job more cost-effective because workstations can be adapted to the changing needs instead of working in an ‘old fashioned’ or ill-suited workstation. Instead of changing out old equipment when it no longer meets the needs of the user, Sovella carts and workstations can be adjusted as needs change.”

TBJ Model 30-60 PPT-AH Prep & Pack Table

Todd Campbell, President, TBJ Inc., says his company provides prep & pack workstations with various ergonomic features designed to promote efficiency, safety and comfort. Individual users can easily adjust the table height to their desired comfort level and preference and the table’s ergonomic, front access makes reaching for supplies and hanging shelf bins fast and effortless. “Our prep & pack tables are constructed of type 304 stainless steel, making them much easier to clean and maintain,” added Campbell about TBJ’s made-to-order customized workstations, which are available in a variety of sizes and features. “In addition to our ergonomic prep & pack tables, TBJ also has a unique line of cart and instrument tray pass-through cabinets with interlocked doors that prevent cross contamination of air from the soiled side to the clean side when transferring carts and trays.”

Sealed Air’s TASKI Mobile Work Station

For environmental service (EVS) teams, Sealed Air’s Diversey Care division offers the TASKI Mobile Work Station (TMWS), a unique cleaning system designed to increase efficiency, sustainability and staff satisfaction. “The Work Station has many features that enable workers to improve compliance with safety protocols and incorporate best practices including a dedicated area for gloves, other personal protective equipment, and wet floor signs,” said Carolyn Cooke, Vice President, Healthcare, North America. “The work station also has dedicated locations for cleaning tools, chemicals and consumable supplies, which allows the worker to have everything they need for the job ‘on board’and eliminate repeat trips to the supply closet.”

Available in sizes large, small, or nano, Cooke says the TMWS design and modular components hold up to 30 percent more consumables than traditional carts while the incorporated pre-wetted microfiber and/or disposable cleaning cloths increase efficiency and reduce the risk of cross contamination and worker strain. “During an extensive study, workers using the TMWS exerted up to 80 percent less effort, and were able to increase the speed of patient room cleaning by up to 30 percent,”1 Cooke asserted. “The TMWS also supports the implementation of sustainable cleaning methods which can reduce chemical and water usage by up to 50 percent without compromising the efficacy of cleaning.”

EnCompass Modular Housekeeping Station
by Ecolab

Kurt Bogaard, Ecolab Marketing Director, says their workstations not only satisfy the needs of EVS staff but help to support infection prevention efforts too. The Ecolab EnCompass Modular Housekeeping Station features an ergonomic design that allows EVS staff to configure the cart size to specific cleaning needs and detach the waste compartment for easy transport. The color-coded bucket system supports cleaning best practices and separate dirty and clean compartments help reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Solid plastic construction also makes the cart lighter than metal models and the ample storage and locking compartments keep chemicals safe and well-organized.

“The EnCompass Modular Housekeeping Station is designed for the specific needs of healthcare customers,” said Bogaard. “The station has an ergonomic handle that provides three hand positions making it easier to push and maneuver. EVS staff can position station components to their individual preference using flexible configurations. Soiled textiles are separated from clean, the solid plastic construction is easy to clean and disinfect, and all required tools and products are carried on board the unit, helping to reduce trips back to the closet for additional supplies. In addition, textiles are pre-saturated with disinfectant at the start of each shift during station set-up, which ensures that only fresh cleaning solution is used in each room and eliminates trips back to the closet to change mop water.”

Midmark 6203 Non-Powered Care Exchange Workstation

The Midmark Care Exchange Workstation family of powered and non-powered mobile and wall-mounted workstations work with a variety of medical equipment inside an exam room to “create an efficient, patient-centered ecosystem,” with a small footprint said Michael Couch, Marketing Manager, Medical Casework & Care Exchange Products, Midmark. “Whether non-powered, powered or wall-mounted, the workstation can be configured the way you need it, where you need it, no matter your choice of hardware platform or exam room set-up. Midmark Care Exchange Mobile Workstations offer low rolling resistance on the floor and smooth movement on the walls. The powered workstations take flexibility to another level by providing on-demand AC power to devices plugged into the workstation without being plugged into the wall, or relying solely on the batteries of the technology devices that are being used. Wall-mounted workstations give clinicians the option of flexibility in height and movement while enhancing medical workflow in a facility and allowing wired connections to data and power in an off-the-floor application. Many workstations adjust in height, while tilt and rotation features for monitor options allow caregivers to maintain a proper working position without sacrificing eye contact with patients. Midmark workstations utilize finishes that minimize seams for the work surfaces, which enhance cleaning and infection control processes.”

Clever cart solutions

Battery Powered Computer Medical Cart by
AFC Industries Inc.

What do HCWs really want in a cart? Ken Kapica, Marketing Director at AFC Industries Inc. certainly knows what they don’t want. “The number one cart complaint we have heard is back, wrist and shoulder pains from the push-pull interaction with carts,” he said. “All our carts/workstations follow the ergonomic principle that ‘one size does not fit all.’ That is why our units are all height adjustable to adapt to the varied workforce and help to alleviate repetitive stress injuries. A cart also needs to be strong and sturdy, yet light and mobile, and able to go anywhere within the facility. We have met these needs by building our sturdy carts from cold-rolled steel, with five, three-inch pivoting casters (the front two are locking), integrated handles, smooth round edges on the work surface and easy movement into and out of patient rooms. Our carts are pneumatically or electronically height adjustable with a smooth moving telescopic drive mechanism to satisfy most sit and stand-up situations, along with sliding mouse trays to accommodate left and right hand users. AFC carts allow for the up-close interaction between patient and caregiver. They can be used to share information or walk through a specific procedure or care plan. Its’ small footprint brings the patient into a close proximity to contribute to, and work with, the physician so that they can jointly navigate a program, review an image and truly share in the healthcare process.”

Carts that provide seamless support for emerging technology are another plus. “This is a crucial element since more and more workers are using their own devices on the job. Very often the worker will try to rig something up to accommodate a new laptop, tablet or piece of equipment,” said Kapica. “AFC has recognized the fact that more powerful mobile devices are the new rule rather than the exception. Whether it is new and improved batteries for longer power source operation or streamlined designs made to securely hold tablets and yes, even i-Phones, carts remain an integral part of the healthcare landscape.”

Humanscale’s T7 TouchPoint
Mobile Technology Cart

Sacha Burn, MS AEP EDAC, Humanscale Healthcare Ergonomist, says company research on point-of-care solutions shows HCWs use computers for the majority of their work but that they do so in very short intervals, less than five minutes on average, which means there’s little time to fuss with adjustments. “Traditional carts require six or seven adjustments to allow them to comfortably fit the user and caregivers don’t have time to properly adjust them,” Burn explained. “Because of that, they use the equipment at whatever settings they find it in resulting in strains and discomfort. Traditional carts are also very heavy, making them physically taxing to move and they are difficult to clean because they have many nooks, crannies and exposed wires.”

Jim Owens, Global Healthcare Product Director, says Humanscale resolves those and other problems with the T7 TouchPoint Mobile Technology Cart (T7). The system offers documentation cart and medication cart configurations and its unique Auto Fit technology significantly reduces the number of steps required to adjust for comfort. “The T7’s Auto Fit technology enables the caregiver to make a one-step, ergonomic height adjustment with the touch of a button,” Owens said.

“You can reduce the risk for nurse injury and fatigue by choosing a cart that pulls its own weight,” Burn added. “PowerTrack steering available on the T7 engages a centralized fifth wheel that focuses the center of mass of the cart, requiring less force to steer and navigate.” Early next year, Owens said Humanscale will introduce a new medication distribution system to help streamline medication delivery workflow and improve accountability and tracking.

Medication management

Wireless Auto-Locking Cart
by Armstrong Medical Industries

Kari Gumbiner, Product Manager, Armstrong Medical Industries, says healthcare facilities certainly are looking for effective ways to help improve accountability for medications and controlled substances. “Whether it is knowing which staff member accessed the cart and when or verifying the cart was locked down when unattended,” said Gumbiner. “Armstrong’s Wireless Auto-Locking Cart provides a solution. The Armstrong Wireless Auto-Locking Cart offers added security with several programmable auto-lock features. Additional security options include badge access, dual-locking controlled substance drawer with audible alarm, and software audit trail reports for accountability and tracking the locked/unlocked status of the cart.” The cart also comes with an LCD display for viewing cart status information, on-screen programming ability and an integrated 802.11g wireless feature that allows for remote management of carts and users (up to 5,000) within minutes.

Metro AccessPoint Rx MD

The Metro AccessPoint Rx MD Mobile Medication workstation is another option offering a choice of five highly-efficient power systems, including Lithium Nano and hot swappable solutions, and unit-specific customization to support clinical workflows and upstream medication dispensing models. The individually locking, patient-specific drawers are assigned using HL7 ADT (admission/discharge/transfer) transactional data with drawers that can be opened by scanning a patient’s ID barcode. Other features include configurable, time-based access controls to reduce the risk of medication administration at an incorrect time and aid in pharmacy reconciliation for unused medications. Plus, a centralized, web-based console lets users access reports while allowing for Active Directory-compatible user management, fleet management and system setup, along with alignment to the hospital’s Active Directory for easy, single sign-on functionality.

“The lightweight and space-efficient Metro AccessPoint Rx MD Mobile Medication workstation integrates a secure medication inventory management system with the systems and technologies required throughout the patient care and medication administration processes (EMR, BCMA, etc.),” said Rob Sobie, Vice President, Healthcare Solutions. “This creates a unified, patient-centric solution that is easily transported to where it’s needed most: the bedside. Integrating a secure medication management storage solution onto a workstation safeguards the last 100 feet of the medication administration process. This helps facilities close the loop to further improve efficiency and safety all the way through to the bedside.”

Smart storage solutions

Hänel Rotomat vertical Carousel

When it comes to keeping needed items for carts and workstations neatly stored, organized and readily accessible, David Schneider, Marketing Manager, Hänel Storage Systems, says poor use and management of space — especially when already limited — can be inefficient and expensive. “The immediate effect of this lack of space is disorganization. Crowded storage areas and processing space leads to shelves that are stacked to capacity, often with less than ideal aisle space, and every available inch of floor space utilized with carts. This makes items not only hard to find, but hard to access and susceptible to damage,” said Schneider. As a result, he said hospital staff often resorts to using stepladders to reach high shelves, manually shift heavy moveable shelves to access case cart items and rely on written inventory pages taped to the shelves. Moving supplies offsite also comes with its own set of problems. “Multiple, spread out, or offsite storage locations can lengthen the required turn-around time on surgical supplies, from sterile trays to soft goods, which can lead to over-stocking, rush orders, and overall frustration,” said Schneider.

The Hänel Rotomat Vertical Carousel provides is a high-density storage solution with a small footprint that saves valuable floor space and facilitates easy, on-the-spot cart building and maneuvering. “The Rotomat Vertical Carousel combines storage, inventory management, safety and security into one complete system, making it utterly unique in the healthcare market,” Schneider asserted. Based on a “goods to the user” principal, he says the single-access, ergonomic unit eliminates the need to walk through rows of shelves searching for and carrying products. Instead, the requested items are brought to the user by entering an item number or description, or by scanning a barcode. “This improves speed and accuracy and inventory levels are kept up-to-date in real-time,” said Schneider. “When a healthcare facility knows exactly what it has available in inventory and what the status of the item is, they avoid over stocking, shorten case pick times and decrease rush orders to correct mistakes in the Operating Room, Emergency Department or Labor & Delivery. This means increased efficiency and accuracy with reduced complaints from staff.”

Spider Shelving-System by Rousseau Métal Inc.

Rousseau Métal Inc. also provides storage solutions that are designed to improve workspaces in healthcare facilities. “Our products will be especially useful in maintenance departments as our toolboxes will allow staff to work in a safe, efficient environment,” said Rousseau’s Direct Marketing Agent Julie St.-Pierre. “Our products are unique in the market as they are recognized for their quality, durability and style. We have 19 standard colors and a wide variety of dimensions and options to suit any healthcare facility’s needs. Also, we are really proud of our customer service as we always make the satisfaction of our clients a priority.”  


1. TASKI Mobile Work Station,Time, Motion and Consumption Study.

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