Medical carts have become increasingly specialized over the years. The range of available peripherals has also expanded over time. All these changes have depended heavily on one important aspect: the power supply for the electronic equipment used on medical carts. In fact, power supply issues could be considered to be the greatest challenge ever faced by medical cart manufacturers and users. The supply of power, or lack thereof, to a medical cart can make or break its functionality and economical viability.
A Highly Charged Situation
The first concern has been that the medical cart power supply needed to be sustainable. Enormous problems could result if a battery on an emergency cart were to run out of power in the middle of an emergency medical procedure. Workload and frustration are increased when the power supply on a point of care medical cart doesn’t last for the full duration of the operator’s shift. The risk of data being lost when a smart cart loses power is high.
Besides these more immediately felt negatives, other concerns have come to light. Larger batteries have meant greater overall cart weight, which has negatively impacted ergonomics. The cart may have more power, but the cart user loses theirs more quickly when having to push a heavy weight around.
From an economic perspective, having to charge batteries at a wall socket has meant that rather expensive equipment was inoperative for unnecessary amounts of time. The short-term solution has been to expand the fleet of carts, but the long-term drawback of that option has been higher running costs for medical centers.
The above challenges prompted manufacturers to return to the drawing board seeking optimum solutions. It was clear that medical cart power supply services needed to extend beyond just building in a battery. They needed to address these specific challenges with long-term, sustainable solutions.
The first step was to make the batteries removable and replaceable. This helped to a degree, but it still posed a challenge, since the process of removal was rather complex and clumsy for medical center staff to accomplish. It also required shutting down all systems and saving all data before the swap could be made. Additionally, staff found their attention to the patient being fragmented by constantly having to check the battery level during shifts.
Designers and manufacturers found the solution in lithium-ion batteries, which are much more lightweight and provide longer hours of uninterrupted working capacity. This paved the way to be able to mount two batteries, allowing for an exchange of batteries without a break in power supply to the cart. In addition, batteries could be charged while on the cart, or while on a wall unit apart from the cart.
All of these adaptations have made power supplies to medical carts far more flexible and user-friendly. It is also easier for technicians to replace and upgrade batteries on the carts, without the inconvenience of rendering the carts temporarily out of action.