Mobile computing carts are a vital piece of equipment at healthcare facilities across the country, enabling doctors and nurses to access electronic health records and imaging data, writing electronic prescriptions, conduct documentation, dispense medications, and more, all from the patient's bedside.
With so many mobile carts in operation, especially at large hospitals and clinics, ongoing preventive maintenance is one of the most important means of improving overall equipment reliability, reducing downtime, managing inventory and reducing replacement costs. While preventive maintenance can be conducted in-house, it's often better left to the experts - experienced technicians that deal with mobile computer carts and their numerous moving parts on a daily basis.
This article details the importance of ongoing preventive maintenance for the medical computer carts at your healthcare facility and why you should outsource this critical process instead of conducting it in-house.
Preventative Maintenance Helps Reduce Equipment Downtime
Preventive maintenance is the best way to reduce the likelihood of equipment failure in the hospital setting when it comes to workstations on wheels. Many hospital IT departments are already operating at their maximum capacity and committing resources to diagnose, so resolving a technical problem with a mobile computer cart is often unrealistic. Preventative maintenance can be seen as an investment in preventing equipment downtime, reducing the number of service tickets logged with your IT department and increasing the lifespan of mobile computer carts at your facility.
Consider the workflow for a mobile cart that malfunctions while in service at your facility:
- Cart malfunction occurs
- Open a work order
- Transport cart to IT department
- Diagnose problem
- Determine replacement parts to order
- Place order for replacement parts
- Retrieve replacement parts upon delivery
- Remove defective parts on cart
- Install replacement parts
- Restore cart
- Test cart to ensure proper functioning
- Return defective parts to manufacturer
- Return cart to service
- Close work order
In a best-case scenario, employees at your facility may expend just 5 hours of paid time on this entire process. That may not sound like much, but it's also the case that your mobile cart will remain out of service while you wait for replacement parts to arrive. It's also assumed that everyone involved will act as if the repair is their first priority - in reality, healthcare workers and IT departments are already overworked and it's difficult to make time for unexpected tasks.
Outsourced preventative maintenance helps to prevent unplanned downtime that leaves your equipment out of service for long periods. Expert technicians quickly diagnose potential issues before they turn into critical problems that disrupt workflows and burden your staff.
Benefits of an Outsourced Preventative Maintenance Plan
The goal of preventative maintenance is to minimize downtime and service interruptions for the most critical equipment at your facility, but those aren't the only benefits you can actualize by choosing to outsource this critical task. Here are just a few benefits associated with outsourcing maintenance versus conducting preventive maintenance in-house.
Promote Best Use of Staff and Resources - Busy healthcare and IT workers are already swamped with daily tasks. A broken down medical cart is an inconvenience for your healthcare workers and IT department, who may already be swamped with work orders, repair tickets, and other maintenance tasks. Outsourcing preventative care for your equipment means that your IT workers can stay focused on other value-adding tasks.
Establish Components that Require Outside Expertise - Mobile computer carts vary in their design and specifications, making them a tricky maintenance task for IT staff who may never have repaired a specific model in the past. While some components may be generic, others are highly specific and are best-maintained by a qualified technician with specific training in diagnosing mechanical and other issues with mobile computer carts.
Prolong Equipment Life - Mobile computer carts are a critical piece of equipment and a significant investment for healthcare facilities that use them. Over time, the best way to maximize the return on this investment is to prolong the lifespan of the equipment as much as possible. An expert technician with specific training in identifying and repairing your mobile computer carts plays a significant role in increasing the lifespan of the equipment, creating huge long-term savings for your facility.
Require Less Standby Equipment - It's no coincidence that healthcare facilities which neglect routine preventative maintenance also have the biggest budgets for standby equipment. If you're expecting 10% of your mobile carts to break every year, it makes sense to have some kind of contingency plan- but wouldn't it make more sense to spend less money on reducing the number of break-downs? What about a plan to reduce the number of work orders so that your facility doesn't purchase equipment that just sits in a storage closet until something else breaks down?
Establish Directives for Best Use of Equipment by Operators - A qualified technician can educate and inform your staff on best practices for equipment usage and maintenance, helping you improve your usage practices and reduce the need for ongoing repairs.
Anatomy of a Comprehensive Maintenance Package
Our mobile cart technicians use a comprehensive checklist to assess and service every component of your mobile computer carts. Here's just a sample of what we do to keep your equipment working and in like-new condition:
- Top Work Surface - check hardware is secure on frame, wire management,
- Monitor Arm - ensure monitor is secured properly, check swivel, tilt and pivot functions for full functionality and range of motion
- Keyboard Tray - test for full retraction, secure hardware, functional positive and negative tilting
- Handles - ensure all handles on cart are smoothly finished (non-abrasive_ and mounted securely
- Locks - ensure that any combination, electronic, or keyed lock mechanisms are functional
- Drawers/Doors - check that drawer sliders are securely mounted and drawers glide properly
- Pneumatic Cylinder Components - ensure that height adjustment features are operational and work with minimal effort for appropriate ergonomic benefits
- Cart Base - inspect cart base for damage and ensure structural integrity of the cart, including that casters are securely mounted
- Casters - wheels should roll smoothly with no wobbling, locking mechanism must immobilize cart when engaged, casters must be cleared of foreign objects (dust, hair, debris) that could affect motion
- Sanitize Cart - total wipe-down and disinfection of the cart to minimize the risk of spreading infections throughout your healthcare facility
Comprehensive maintenance also includes a full inspection of any battery systems used to supply power to your mobile computer carts - we'll check the batteries, power cords, LED displays, charging systems, and DC adapter, as well as clean the system of any dust and dirt that could cause blockages or lead to overheating.
The AOD Advantage - How our Preventative Maintenance Plan Works for You
Add-on Data provides comprehensive preventative maintenance packages that ensure you get the most out of medical computer carts and power systems at your healthcare facility. We'll conduct a comprehensive assessment of your entire mobile cart inventory, including a full inspection of carts and power systems.
We'll also provide a detailed report on every cart that we assess, so you'll have an accurate record of exactly how much money you're saving by letting us solve your mobile cart maintenance problems before they lead to unplanned equipment down-time.
Our technicians are specifically trained to optimize function for each component of every mobile cart we sell, communicate best operating practices to your staff, and leave your fleet of mobile carts in the best possible condition after each service visit.