Modular Nurse Stations…we can do better



I am going to step on a few toes this week, but it has to be said…no modular manufacturer has created an ideal nurse station solution. Ok, I said it; now give me chance to explain.
When it comes to nurse station interaction, too many manufacturers are creating solutions based around just one user group, when in reality there are four user groups. These four groups are:

  • Hospital Staff (incidental users)
  • Family Members (walk up users)
  • Patient (ultimate users)
  • Nursing Staff (daily user)

There is always overlap, but each of these user groups have a completely different set of wants and needs.

With the move away from centralized stations, the ability to create environments for impromptu meetings is very important. This is one challenge that most manufacturers are addressing with great solutions but, there are basic issues that most are choosing to ignore:

  1. Technology is demand flexibility; and changing technology is reality in today’s healthcare. It is essential that any nurse station has access chases to facilitate new technology. Furthermore, these chases must be accessible from the outside of the counter, allowing engineering staff access without disruption to the nursing staff.
  2. Storage is as important as ever. Any quality solution must have a storage option in a variety of heights to maximize vertical space.
  3. As crazy as it sounds, a toe kick is an essential detail to any “walk up” area. Many manufactures see it as a design detail and choose to ignore it. What they do not understand, a recessed toe kick is an ergonomic essential. Some have created a work-around to this issue by extending the transaction counter but they have now created an extended footprint and in some cases a safety issue with the sharp corners that are created.
  4. This station must be cleaned. As basic as this sounds, many manufacturers still create a cleaning nightmare for the staff. Minimizing the number of gaps helps tremendously, but also making sure the materials you use can hold up to the cleaning agents is critical.
  5.  Transaction ledges must be no less than 4” and also must be weight bearing. Nothing is more irritating for any user group, than not having a wide enough ledge to place an iPad, purse, paperwork, and sometimes (it make me cringe every time) a two-year-old who is too tired to walk and too heavy to keep carrying.
  6. You should never confuse the patient or family member as to where they should go to talk to a nurse. The product used to create the solution should create patient “walk-up” points for interaction.
  7. Wire management is too often an after-thought.
  8. Work areas must adapt to the nursing staff – the staff should never have to adapt to the station.
  9.  Like it or not, this is an area of sensitive information so HIPPA still plays a role.

You might be shaking your heads saying this is all “pie in the sky.” I am saying we can do better. Finally, modular is getting a foothold in the application that seems to always end up as a fixed solution…we can’t blow this opportunity.

With a passion for solving problems, Chris has been in management, marketing and sales in the healthcare market for over 25 years.