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Stop walking away with my bottom line!

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  By Jenny Toole,  May 21, 2012

A study reveals that the use of wall-mounted workstations in or near patient rooms could reduce the distance employees walk by 50-80 percent.


Thousands of hospitals across the country have capitalized on their employees' laziness. Although that seems like a strange statement, by changing your way of thinking, your facility may be able to capitalize as well.

Those that have changed over to this new way of thinking have done so based on  Rapid Modeling's 2007 Hospital Unit Design Study that revealed the shocking results of significant lost efficiency of staff when using traditional computer workstations or carts.

The way of thinking in the past is not the way of the future.

The study revealed that the use of wall-mounted workstations in or near patient rooms could reduce the distance employees walk by 50-80 percent. According to the study, wall-mounted workstation installments also enable practitioner best practices with respect to documentation and meds, causing significant improvements in the quality of documentation and in the reduction of errors, omissions and mistakes. Furthermore, the study revealed that these wall-mounted workstations not only had a positive impact on patient care quality, but significantly increased the bottom line. Limiting the physical stress on nurses from excess walking improves safety, accuracy, productivity and employee retention — which ultimately lowers costs.

Rapid Modeling's study, using proprietary computer software to develop and compare different scenarios, took into account factors including location of medication and documentation equipment, and a typical number of medication cycles per day. Then the impact of using medication carts, computer carts, central nursing and med stations, and wall-mounted workstations was compared. In this study, Proximity Systems' wall-mounted workstations were used because of their unique ability to integrate computers, lockable medical records and secure medical supplies in one location.

Average walking distances can be significant, often upward of 45,000 feet walked per day. That's over eight miles per day! With those stresses put on nurses, it's no surprise that in these facilities employee retention is low.

Additionally, with each employee walking eight miles per day at an average adult walking speed of 3.5 miles per hour, that comes to 2.3 hours every day of wasted employee productivity. That's 598 hours per employee, per year of wasted time. With the average nurse salary of $78,000 per year, can your facility really afford this old-fashioned way of thinking?

By using a strategically placed, wall-mounted workstation in or near patient rooms, the study found significant differences in the distance nurses were required to walk.

Switching to wall-mounted workstations can reduce the distances walked by up to 80%, saving 478 hours of lost time per year and $18,000 per year, per employee!

Although these numbers may seem extreme, Nelson Lee, president of Rapid Modeling, attests that these findings were actually conservative based on a low factor for locating misplaced carts and the assumption of uninterrupted workflows.

While the idea of fixed workstations may seem counterintuitive to the assumed efficiency of mobile solutions, Ivy Holt of Providence Portland Medical Center explains the difference: "The problems with the carts included having to remember to charge them and, when they were charged, maneuvering them into patient rooms."

While there are systematic procedures to keep the carts charged, it just doesn't happen with everything else that needs to get done. To counteract this problem, carts are offered with larger batteries — but that adds to the weight of the already heavy and difficult-to-maneuver cart and makes the staff even further fatigued by the process.

"When the carts were charged, moving them from room to room, which is what they are made for, was a problem. Nurses would have to maneuver the cart into the room, where space is limited to start, and work around medical equipment, wires and visitors," says Holt. The process was so difficult, fatiguing and potentially unsafe that the solution for most nurses was to just not use them.

"With the Proximity Workstations mounted in the patient rooms, we have become much for efficient," says Holt. "It is used to document the care that the nurse does provide."

Aside from the improved medical record accuracy, efficiency of staff and bottom-line benefits, these workstations are improving employee retention as well. Many facilities are installing the workstations to attract qualified nurses and other practitioners to work at their facility. With the reduced walking and stress put on employees, they all want to work in a facility with wall-mounted workstations.

About the author
Jenny Toole is marketing director, Proximity Systems. To learn more, go to www.proximitysystems.com.


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