Mobile workstations come of age, present important choices

Call them COWs (computers on wheels), WOWs (workstations on wheels) or simply mobile workstations: computer carts continue to proliferate in hospitals even as tablet PCs and smartphones grow in popularity. But what kind is right for your facility?

"There is no one 'perfect' solution; it depends on what you're trying to accomplish," Laura Jantos, principal with ECG Management Consultants, says in the just-published November-December edition of CMIO magazine. "When choosing a cart system, size, maneuverability, ergonomics and battery life are all important." Organizational culture and floor plans also are factors.

"As long as it rolls easily, weight is not the factor it may seem," says Carolyn Zsoldos, clinical support specialist at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. "However, it's critical to make sure that carts roll smoothly on both carpeted and uncarpeted floors."

Some hospitals, including Christiana's two inpatient facilities, have held "cart fairs" to let staff--particularly nurses--test drive mobile workstations and provide feedback. "We visited other hospitals to see what they used, and tried a demo model before making the purchase," says Irene Farrelly, vice president of information systems at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "We now have 50 carts deployed in all of our medical/surgical units."

To learn more about choosing mobile workstations:
- have a look at this CMIO feature story