The characteristics of the medical carts within a healthcare facility are the culmination of the needs and expectations of the professionals to be utilizing the carts. Medical cart manufacturers will design to the specifications of each department, whether in the reception and wait areas, back-of-house operations and conference rooms, the cafeteria and the highly-traveled areas by visitors, all in addition to the patient interaction.
Creating the Concept
Input for the characteristics and design of the medical cart are derived from all areas of the facility to ensure versatility and function. The manufacturer’s services should include the inquiring of use specifications of each department manager relating to the features, functionality, and aesthetics. The big-picture understanding of a cart’s utility will help drill down to the generalities of size, load capacity, weight, and mobility. These characteristics will be specific to each function of each department. The medical cart manufacturer will be responsible for the design to mirror the uniqueness of the facility.
Objectives of Use
The healthcare and business professionals need to articulate the objectives of use. The representative of a qualified manufacturer will ask the following questions of each department:
- What is your definition of the perfect cart?
- How do you imagine the cart functioning?
From the responses to these two all-encompassing questions, the design standards of the cart will begin to form. The look, image, and feel of the cart will become apparent, whether “high-tech” or welcoming, will follow. Any requirement for IEC 60601 or FDA testings will become known at this stage of design.
The input relating to any equipment and devices, and the length of time in use, on the cart, will lead to the requirements of the power supply source. The cart will be designed around the equipment, the power source, and the environment; i.e., areas of sterility, public access, office or food. The final characteristic in the technology category is the management of the power cables and whether the cables are to be visible or hidden.
The Human Factor
Another important characteristic that the medical cart manufacturer needs to be made aware of is the cart’s interaction with the user in its function, assembly, and repair. The manufacturer’s representative must know the expectations of, and needs for, writing surfaces and height adjustments. The understanding of the scope of the maintenance and IT staff in charge of the cart’s repair after assembly, as well as the need of any special tools or training, are important factors in the cart’s design. Another important service of the medical cart manufacturer is the demonstration of a prototype at the facility for a test-run to measure functionality and gain insight to any deficiencies or needed upgrades.
The overall features of a medical cart, and the carts within the non-medical departments of the facility need to function as mobile workstations or be evident as the focal point for information, services, and presentations. The new generation of carts, like people, are expected to carry a heavier workload, to accommodate a broad spectrum of hardware and to manage software, all in smaller footprints for easy maneuverability and storage.
The design will not achieve unison with the use and the interaction of people if the medical cart manufacturer did not have, or did not understand, the expectations of each department