In search of the Telepresence cart…


Finding a Telepresence solution shouldn’t be like embarking on a wild animal hunt in Africa: exotic, exclusive and expensive. But that is what some clinicians are finding when they begin their search.

Instead of sighting a Telepresence cart that will help them manage down the cost of care, protect and maintain the health of the caregiver, and still give the patient the best possible quality outcome…they are encountering solutions that are often quite expensive, very complicated and generally impractical for widespread use.  

In our previous blog, “Telemedicine: A practical solution to a global healthcare delivery problem,” we took a general look at the emerging field of telemedicine. Now it’s time to pull out the compass and chart a trip through a market saturated with solutions. This quick checklist will help the seeker qualify which Telepresence carts should be on a “must see” vendor list. Look for:

Safety certified to UL 60601.1:

  • Product safety is an essential for patient and clinician use since these products are often used in conductive healthcare environments where unrestrained gasses and fluids may be present
  • It is not enough for the vendor to say they are certified—look for the UL label

Easy connectivity access for peripheral devices if required:

  • Whether its camera types, speaker types, microphone types or any other peripheral device, giving the remote clinician a clear audio and visual experience is essential in a care encounter

Battery powered and non-powered options:

  • Does the cart give the clinician the ability to grow in utility as needs grow? Are there powered and non-powered options?
  • Will old carts have to be abandoned if needs for mobility increase or is an evergreen solution possible by adding battery power?

Light weight format:

  • What value is a mobile device if it is too large to be mobile or too heavy for caregivers to push? Unwieldy solutions often go unused, an expensive mistake to make
  • Light weight formats make it easier for any user to move, across multiple surfaces within the care setting

Ergonomically adjustable:

  • Some carts claim good ergonomics but are they really? Does it offer up to 20” height-adjustment to to ensure a comfortable computing experience, whether seated or standing?
  • Look for ergonomic features like back-tilt keyboard trays, or technology built in to minimize forces required to adjust cart position, pan, tilt, and lift

Open architecture:

  • As technology changes, will the Telepresence cart adapt? Look for cart platform design which accommodates different device or computing configurations: closed notebooks with monitor (even widescreen with up to 17.3″ diagonal size), CPU and monitor, thin clients, tablets, all-in-one computers and future hardware upgrades

Strong company behind the product

  • Is there access to 24/7 Customer Service with live personnel trained to answer questions and handle your requests?
  • Are there Service Programs available that will help the organization maximize their Telepresence investment?
  • What is their history of innovation and excellence in product design and development?

Clearly there are more elements to a quality Telepresence solution including, video technology type, network type, trained clinical users and overall clinical workflow scenarios. All good talking points for my next blog post. 

Will you be attending the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) event in Baltimore in May? Find us in booth 2015. We’ll be glad to help you explore our Telepresence carts and accessories. Let us know if you want to set up an appointment in the booth.

Steve Reinecke, MT (CLS) CPHIMS
AVP of Healthcare at Ergotron

Steve R

[Video] LearnFit for the Active Classroom

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Introducing Ergotron’s LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desk, our first adjustable desk for students aged nine to adult.

It’s now possible to transform classrooms into active learning environments with on-demand adjustability for students. See what educators have to say about bringing standing postures into the classroom.

Available June 2014.

Kids are taking a stand!

Despite technological advancements in the 21st classroom, many still have an old Leave it to Beaver view of children sitting neatly and quietly in a classroom every day. That notion is certainly antiquated in today’s day and age.

Kids are taking a stand, and you know what? They’re liking it. According to an article by Jenny Quill, contributing writer for“Standing Desks Are Upstanding New Trend at Lake Bluff, Lake Forest Schools,” students at Lake Bluff and Lake Forest elementary and middle schools in Illinois are learning about the pioneer days, even as they pioneer a new wave of school reform—using standing desks in classrooms as a means to introduce healthier movement into the long school day.

But that’s not all. Educators and district leaders are exploring active classrooms as a means to help increase focus and engagement in the classroom. According to Sue Barkhausen, Learning Resource Teacher at Everett Elementary School, “Current research supports the fact that students who use standing desks exhibit increased on-task behavior, alertness, and attentiveness during academic instruction.”

And the research is growing, here in the Midwest, and throughout the world. Does the act of standing more have implications on learning behavior, test scores, overall health of the students?

Carrie Schmitz, Ergonomic & Wellness Research Manager here at Ergotron, is working with global researchers to explore these questions in education to mirror the work previously done with standing in the workplace.

“We believe that health and achievement go hand-in-hand, and sit-stand solutions in the classroom help teach the whole child,” said Schmitz. “Creating opportunities for physical activity (what the CDC defines as “bodily movement that results in an expenditure of energy), within the classroom is an ideal setting to establish healthy habits in children that help to grow healthy adults.”

The introduction of sit-stand desks in education should also be welcome news to the percentage of student population requiring, as Jenny Quill states it, “an outlet for all that youthful, excess energy by allowing students to fidget freely, without disrupting others.”

And for those looking at pilots like that of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest elementary and middle schools, we say this, “Explore on!” We’ll be tracking your progress and sharing our findings in the months ahead.

Check back soon on our blog for more information on Ergotron’s sit-stand efforts in education.