Cliff Weinstein, FLI Charge

The Future of Power in Healthcare Facilities

By Cliff Weinstein
Cliff Weinstein, FLI Charge

Despite the fact the average age of a healthcare facility is more than two decades old, there are plenty of modifications available to transform them into modern facilities with the level of power accessibility patients will expect in the future.

A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that today’s hospitals and medical devices have reached an average age of 22.8 years old. As all industries, including the healthcare industry, continue to digitally transform, hospitals need to keep up with evolving technology.

Essential to the healthcare industry are the array of digital devices that doctors and nurses rely on to care for and monitor patients. These digital devices require certain amounts of power that current infrastructure of many healthcare facilities likely have trouble supporting. And, without the proper infrastructure, power distribution quickly becomes dangerous and inefficient in hospitals with overloaded outlets.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 22% of nonconfined, large and more serious fires in hospitals over three years were caused by electrical malfunctions. The following aspects of healthcare facilities can benefit from improvements in charging technology.

Hospital/Patient Care Rooms

No matter the length of a patient’s stay, their care room is a central part to their patient experience. The patient needs to be kept as comfortable as possible as to put them at ease for whatever reason they are at a facility to begin with. Ensuring there are plenty of available power sources to keep personal electronic devices, such as phones and tablets, powered is a small, yet significant way to add to your patient’s level of comfort.

The medical equipment within a room takes priority in needing power directly from an outlet, and in doing so monopolizes the available outlets. In order to keep patients happy, facilities need additional power sources not pre-designated for medical equipment. That way, a patient’s device remains charged so they remain connected with loved ones and the outside world despite spending time in a healthcare facility.

The way power will be delivered to patient’s rooms in the future is via a wireless power delivery system since available outlets are a rarity in hospitals. These systems could take shape as anything from a charging pad to furniture with built-in charging technology, enabling hospitals to forego the pricey retrofit of the entire facility. Instead, using add-on technology to deliver power. Further down the line, this could even be viewed as a competitive advantage for facilities when it comes to elective medical procedures.

Monitoring & Recording Patient Data

As health records move to be stored digitally, the data gathered by medical devices are also moving in the same direction. When a patient is relying on a device to regularly monitor and store data on important facts like one’s glucose or blood oxygen levels, it is vital for those devices to maintain power. Such data gathered and monitored by medical devices and data gathered within the facility itself, needs to be carefully stored yet readily available throughout any area of the hospital. Houses of such data like tablets or laptops, need to remain charged in a safe and secure way. Staff never want to be put in the position where they need a patient’s file and cannot access it due to lack of power.

Even if such a device begins the day or the shift with a full charge, there is no guarantee it will not burn through the battery quickly, especially if it is an older device with an equally old battery. An innovative option hospitals can deploy to combat this risk is via charging carts or charging pads that charge multiple devices simultaneously, without wires. This way, there is efficient power designated for these recording devices in convenient areas throughout the facility.

Surgical Tools

While there is never a good time to be caught without power, you really never want a surgical tool to lose power mid-operation. Surgical tools must always be sufficiently charged and have their power source nearby at all times. As is the case within patient care rooms, operating rooms already have an abundance of wires powering the equipment. What many may not know is an option, is that wireless charging can work for surgical tools much as it does for cell phones.

Wireless charging stations within the OR or procedure rooms eliminate the need to plug all devices into charging cords. Upon sterilizing the equipment, simply set the device on the charging mat to power up. This reserves outlets for mission-critical pieces of equipment and eliminates the amount of existing cords and wires throughout the OR.

From 2012 to 2014, there were an estimated 17,100 medical facility fires reported to fire departments in the United States. With the advancements in power deliver technology, it is no longer acceptable or compliant to overload outlets, putting your facility and your patients at risk.

Despite the fact the average age of a healthcare facility is more than two decades old, there are plenty of modifications available to transform them into more modern facilities with the level of power accessibility patients will expect in the future. As efficient amounts of power are essential to all healthcare facilities and medical devices, ensuring plenty of progressive, yet code-compliant, charging solutions for patients and staff alike is soon to be the new norm. Take the time to bring your facility to the forefront of the future of power delivery.

About The Author

Cliff Weinstein, FLI Charge