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Key Elements to Managing a Mobile Cart Rollout for an Epic Implementation (Part 4: Test Drive)

By Marcel Woodman on Jun 26, 2013 10:55:00 AM |

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Always demo your products in house before purchase.Continuing our discussion of the role of Mobile carts and their use in Electronic Medical Records (EMR) implementations, today we’ll be covering the importance of testing your carts in a live, production environment.

Take a Test Drive: Would you buy a motor vehicle without taking it for a test drive?  Probably not, but many healthcare systems do just that when they select a mobile cart without taking it for a comprehensive test drive.  For an effective Epic implementation, project managers need to trial the mobile carts onsite with actual end users. A small focus group of critical decision makers that include clinical, IT and administrative representatives can assess the cart quality and immediately eliminate low-quality products from the evaluation process.

Some health systems hold single-day demo fairs featuring several manufacturers – a less than ideal arrangement. Nurses and other evaluators in attendance are able to give carts only a quick push-and-pull. This is like going to an auto dealership, climbing into a showroom model, starting the car and placing it into drive and reverse for a few seconds before passing judgment on how the vehicle performs.  It’s ludicrous to imagine buying a car in this manner, but for many health systems that’s exactly how they have orchestrated mobile cart evaluation in the past. 

A real test drive involves steering the cart down hallways, over thresholds, and in and out of patient rooms, as well as using it in a seated and standing position. Many manufacturers offer carts with large base footprints and support structures that make true bedside care challenging. So, it’s critical to test the cart in the various clinical environments in which it will be deployed. 

A key feature of a well-engineered mobile cart is whether or not it is equipped with ergonomic steering controls by way of a center fifth wheel. Ergonomically designed carts have been shown to reduce user exertions by as much as 40 percent, helping to address nurse fatigue during rounds. Another plus – they reduce the likelihood of career threatening injuries and Worker Compensation claims tied to moving heavy carts.

Avoid mobile carts featuring a foot lever engaged with a straight line caster, meant to improve steering. This off-centered solution fails to deliver proper ergonomic control and causes users to  compensate for  the lack of steering control.

Check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, and be sure to subscribe to our blog to get more updates when they go live.

demo test drive medical cart EHR EMR awareness mobile computer cart epic software

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