Imagine you're a healthcare clinician whose role requires that you interact with different patients several times each day. As you move around your floor, you can access mobile computer workstations located throughout the halls instead of returning back to the same stationary desk in between each and every patient. These carts are your most important tool for patient interactions - you use it to reference their EHR, to help with your assessment, and to jot down progress notes and observations that you can use later, but what happens when you're low on battery?
In 2017, doctors and nurses have access to cutting-edge therapeutic interventions and the latest hospital technologies but are still required to plug their battery-powered computers into a wall to charge. This little efficiency is disruptive to workflows, inconvenient for both the care provider and the patient, and could even result in lost or corrupted patient data, not to mention the safety risks that can be associated with traditional battery systems.
A hot swappable battery addresses all of these issues, enabling healthcare providers to swap out or exchange the power supply on mobile computer carts and other critical patient care devices, minimizing downtime and interruptions, and helping to optimize the workflow of patient care. This article discusses hot swapping in detail, including the great benefits that your healthcare facility can enjoy by adopting this new technology today.
What is Hot Swapping?
Hot swapping is the ability to change a component on a machine without powering down the machine itself, and it's a widespread technology when it comes to computer hardware. Today, all computer peripherals, such as mice, keyboards, and headphones are hot-swap capable - you don't need to turn off your PC in order to plug them in or remove them. Universal Service Bus (USB) drives are another example of a hot-swap ready device that enables data storage - these devices can be plugged into or removed from a computer without the need to power down.
When it comes to hot-swap batteries, we're talking about the ability to extend the operation of a device without having to power it down and charge it up. Devices that are directly in application for patient care, like vital signs equipment, needs to remain operational in perpetuity while it's being used. Other devices like mobile computer carts can be powered with hot-swappable batteries to optimize workflows, minimize downtime, and improve device safety.
Reducing Downtime with Hot Swappable Batteries
Just like the example at the beginning of this blog, healthcare providers are busy throughout the day and need access to the appropriate IT support to get the job done. Nurses making the rounds shouldn't have to stop what they're doing to recharge a computer. Even cold-swap batteries can be a pain - the care provider must properly save and close all documents and files that are open, power down the computer, change the battery, wait for it to restart and then hope that it doesn't need to install updates!
Needing to turn off a piece of equipment that someone is using just to change the power supply can produce delays of up to thirty minutes in some cases, costing your facility precious dollars and lowering patient care standards.
Reducing downtime is a closely-related benefit of implementing hot-swapping capabilities in your healthcare facility. With hot-swapping, your care providers don't even need to walk to a charging station, they simply swap out the dying battery with a fresh one and continue about their day.
Hot Swapping for Safety
There are legitimate safety concerns associated with using traditional battery systems in settings where reliability and up-time are absolutely crucial.
A care provider at a patient's bedside is often accessing the patient's Electronic Health Record (EHR), a digital version of the patient's chart. There are serious risks associated with service outages during this time; newly recorded data may be lost, or even worse, the file could become corrupted, resulting in the loss of the entire chart.
The FDA also warns of mobile computer carts catching fire, overheating, or even exploding, resulting in hospital evacuations and expensive repairs of both the facility and its public image. This should not be seen as a criticism of mobile computer carts but as a warning about batteries and battery packs that can catastrophically overheat. These accidents occur when hospitals use poorly made batteries and battery packs, putting patients and facilities at risk. Choosing quality manufactured battery packs can reduce any source of foreseeable risk that mobile cart batteries have created in the past, establishing a safer environment for both patients and medical staff.
Leading Mobile Power Systems
ELORA Battery System- Anton Bauer is an industry leader in hot-swappable batteries for healthcare applications. Their ELORA Battery System offers exceptional reliability and ease of use, along with numerous practical benefits like those mentioned above. The ELORA Battery System is perfect for cart-mounted computer systems. The modular system includes a battery pack that gets mounted on your cart (your PC plugs in here), along with four separate charge packs. When in use, the system adds just 4lbs to your cart and conveys information about remaining battery life to your staff based on the Wong-Baker pain scale - a scale they already know. The battery pack allows for 2 minutes of bridge time in between battery changes to ensure that you never lose data, and the charging station for the batteries using UV radiation to disinfect batteries while they charge, complementing your facility's existing infection control practices.
Definitive Battery System - The Definitive Battery System is Definitive Technology Groups' hot-swappable battery system can power mobile workstations or vital signs equipment for an entire shift. It is the first modular/hybrid power system to use an advanced Lithium-Iron Phosphate battery chemistry (LiFE), which is inherently safer than lithium-ion or lithium-metal-oxide chemistries. Unlike those battery chemistries in the event of a fire, the Definitive battery chemistry does not release an oxygen molecule, which “feeds” fires and makes them more dangerous when they do occur. The Definitive Battery System also uses less battery capacity to operate, charge and discharge, so they produce less heat and can take more “abuse.” Because the components are not pushed to the max, they are cooler and safer, giving the batteries a very long useful life of 5+ years.
In healthcare settings where reliability is crucial, hot-swappable batteries make a huge difference in the standard of patient care. Hot-swappable batteries help reduce downtime for critical machines and care providers, resulting in streamlined workflow and high productivity. They also help address safety concerns like overheating or exploding batteries and data loss that can happen when machines lose power unexpectedly. Hot-swappable batteries are an excellent investment in enhancing patient care at your facility.