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More than 90 percent of Americans own a cellphone, 32 percent own an e-reader and 42 percent own a tablet computer. Schools are facing a burgeoning amount of tablet usage in their classrooms, whether that be BYOD, 1:1 or 1: to many. And it is falling on IT/Media to figure out how to best charge, sync, store and secure this investment.
There are a lot of questions to answer, and creating side-by-side comparisons of solutions will help. Use this information to help prioritize your needs so that when you start evaluating solutions, you know where to draw the line. Whether to leverage assets or to meet space challenges, here are a few things to consider:
1. Choose mobility for larger quantities of devices
With wide casters for easy moving across multiple surfaces, and storage to house multiple devices at a time, a charging cart is your best bet. Plus, it can easily be rolled into a closet to be locked up for the night. Here are some questions to think through cart options:
- Will the devices be used exclusively in one class or will they be shared across the building?
- Will they be stored by the teacher in the classroom or should they be housed in the Media Center or IT manager’s office?
- Is it important to be able to visually check whether a device is plugged in properly and charging?
- Is it secure? Will the locking mechanisms deter theft?
2. Choose fixed or desktop options for small quantities
If you need to only manage a small number of devices, look for charging stations that can either be mounted on the wall or will sit on a desk or countertop. Take into consideration the following:
- Does it offer a low profile to help avoid interfering with flow of students or staff around the room?
- Consider the size of charging slots if the devices have cases; not all charging systems are created equal
- Can the unit scale if class or device requirements grow?
- Is security an issue? Do you need to lock up the device or is it safe to leave them in an open environment?
- Ease of access to device is important, look for units that make device insertion and retrieval a snap
3. Also important, choose safety!
Whether rolling out 20 devices or 1000, don’t forget the electrical requirements. Look for products that are UL labeled for the whole unit, not just the components. Charging station that have been designed to be a safe product requires redundant safety features, special abuse tests; both component and full system level certifications to all government standards is ideal when used in public places such as schools. Whether adults are the only ones interacting with the unit, or if students engage with it too, look for products that are rugged and suit the environment where they are being placed. Learn more about safe product design.
It’s fascinating to watch where the future of classroom technology is going. 360° classrooms, sit-stand learning environments, no barriers cyber-education…each new adoption faces its challenges. Being prepared means doing your homework ahead of making a purchasing decision. When you do integrate that new solution and it’s a winner for staff and students give yourself a gold star or take an Instagram selfie—some IT geekery is allowed!
Or you can do what most people do, visit Charging.ergotron.com to see side-by-side comparisons of our device charging carts, wall mounts, and desktop units. We have a very broad selection all in one place for you to review.
And of course, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
By Sheila Veschusio, Ergotron Education Industry Manager
 Pew Internet Mobile Technology Fact Sheet- http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/
In my previous “Can point-of-care equipment last 100,000 miles?” blog I was comparing automobile upkeep to that of healthcare point-of-care equipment. Cars continue running and stay dependable well past their warranty period most often because of a good maintenance strategy.
The same is true for healthcare point-of-care equipment. Unfortunately, quite often I see wall mounts, arms and carts installed incorrectly, poorly cable managed, or being used improperly in healthcare settings across the world.
There are two possible scenarios for why this occurs. One reason is improper understanding on the complexity of a point-of-care project. The other? Lack of regularly scheduled maintenance over the life of the product. By understanding these pitfalls, healthcare organizations, and the teams organizing the implementations, will have a stronger chance of avoiding them and ensuring successful long-term outcomes.
In almost every situation where a wall mount or a cart is being planned for a patient care area, it is being placed there because of a software implementation.
These software implementations are extremely complex, involve many people and cost hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars. Often, more attention is being placed on getting the system “live” and less on the unique features of the equipment that the clinician will be using to access the system. The teams ordering the equipment may be making assumptions about whether or not their facilities people understand these features and can properly install them.
The simple fact is that the installation, adjustment and cable management of these point-of-care carts and wall mounts require an attention to detail that is very often missed by the hospital’s maintenance or facilities department. A hospital may implement the best world class software that in testing and training is extremely well received by the users but on the floor it can be very different, potentially making the implementation go-live a bust.
One way to avoid this? Consider a workflow assessment.
What is it? A workflow assessment is carried out by your wall mount and cart vendor and involves a very thorough walk-through of the facilities and the equipment installed. Problem areas can be quickly identified and adjusted, and overall satisfaction with the system increased from the start.
Another consideration, have your vendor do the product installation. Who knows the equipment better than the manufacturer? At Ergotron, we can provide full installation and integration of all our healthcare equipment and the IT equipment that attaches to our carts and wall mounts.
Unlike most businesses, a hospital runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Thirty-five percent of a nurse’s time during their shift is taken up doing documentation. This means a piece of point-of-care equipment has to be durable enough to handle the workflow thrown at them.
Did you know that almost all printers used in healthcare settings are under maintenance contracts? Once or twice a year a factory trained service technician comes into the hospital and services a printer. They clean all the rollers, make sure everything is working properly and replace parts, like a fuse, that have worn out.
Now, as digital health records replace paper and printer options, different solutions are required to support this digital information – computer carts or wall mounts. And just like those printers, carts and wall mounts need regular maintenance.
Unfortunately, this is not happening.
The clinical staff, quite often, has too many things to do. I have found that even though the caregiver knows something may not be working properly – or even in complete disarray – they don’t take the time to call for help. They just deal with an issue as it arises. Hospital workers are great at adapting, but they should not have to. Their job is to provide care.
Over the course of a year, a wall mount or cart is going to be touched thousands of times, and all this usage takes a toll. Post installation, it’s important to schedule yearly, on demand maintenance of all carts and wall mounts. Does every vendor offer this? It is something to consider. We’ve found through our maintenance contracts that several of the following concerns are typically addressed:
- Cleaning equipment that is dirty, the wheels on the cart will get full of dust and hair
- Adjusting areas of the product that need to be made.
- Batteries on powered carts do wear out and they need to be proactively checked so that replacement of these batteries can be seamless for the caregivers using the equipment.
- Over the period of a year a wall mount may have had a mouse or keyboard replaced but the cable management was not attended to or cables have been pulled from their intended routing.
Taking a proactive approach to the health and well-being of your electronic data may be just as important as the approach you take with patients! If your organization can’t manage this type of yearly maintenance, please note that Ergotron can.
In the next blog, I’ll address how many hospitals may not even know all the equipment they have acquired over the years.
Steve Reinecke, MT (CLS) CPHIMS
AVP of Healthcare at Ergotron