5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Mobile Carts

Posted by Michael Roche on Jun 1st 2017

Mobile carts dominated early deployments of in-room workstations to capture  patient information at the point of care, despite increased use of wall-mounted systems, carts still are the primary choice. For hospitals preparing for their second or third generation of cart deployment, here are a few key questions decision makers should consider:

1) How will they be used?

The most obvious answer that comes to mind on how the workstation will be used is to interact with the EMR. Because these interactions vary from hospital to hospital, department-to-department and user-to-user, a singular solution is not usually the best choice this is why omnimed has many options and accessories for our EMR Carts.

2) Do I need an external power system?

The need for external power can often increase the price by 25-40%. However, depending on your workflow, EMR software, or the computing technology you will be using, you may not need to spend this. Laptops can provide more flexibility as they have their own built in battery, and some facilities are able to work around the 2-3 hour runtime that those batteries provide by adding an extended capacity laptop battery or battery slice.

3) What type of security authentication will be used?

Security is important in order to protect confidential patient records. Bar code scanners are the most common way to achieve this, as their scanning commands are often integrated into the EMR. Make sure to consider what type of scanner – Bluetooth or tethered – and how it will be stored on the cart.

4) How usable are the carts? (Are they easy to maneuver? Do the wheels roll easily across thresholds and on various surfaces?)

Avoid the mistake of buying carts that cannot fit into the spaces where you need them, such as bedsides in a smaller patient room. They should roll easily across the floor without a loss of control. Weight is also a concern since carts that are too heavy are harder to push and can cause neck and back pain. The cart’s mechanical components, electronic data capture and software interface should all be intuitive and easy to learn with basic training.

5) Do you have the resources available to maintain the carts?

Like all mobile devices, cart maintenance is required to keep the equipment in top working condition. Cart support and maintenance often falls to the biomed or IT teams, both of which might already be stretched considering the growing role of technology and mobile medical devices. This is even more of a concern when the fleet is very large or if it is comprised of various models that require specialized knowledge. Many manufacturers and third party resellers offer maintenance and repair services to take some of that burden off of the hospital staff.