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Increase HCAHPS Score With Quiet Hospital Casters

If you work at a hospital, clinic or other type of healthcare facility, you know all about the problem of noise.

Patients, doctors, nurses and visitors all agree on one thing—alarms, alerts, beeps and loudspeaker pages make hospitals visits irritating for patients and staff alike.

Hospital noise is such a major issue for patients that the annual Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey dedicates 3 questions specifically just to noise.

The results from these surveys show that, year after year, excessive hospital noise is a top complaint among patients, staff and visitors. And the results indicate that the source of this noise isn’t just alarms and loudspeakers. A major cause of noise in healthcare facilities is the casters on material handling systems used throughout these facilities.

We’re talking about the laundry carts, IV poles, mobile workstations, food service delivery carts and other carts that are prevalent on the floors of healthcare facilities. They are typically equipped with poor-quality, noisy casters.

Replacing these commodity casters with quieter casters reduces the level of noise in your healthcare facility. And is likely to boost your HCAHPS Scores. Here’s how.

WHY MOST HOSPITAL CASTERS ARE NOISY

Casters make a lot of noise for a number of reasons, some of them to do with their quality, others to do with their design, and others to do with their construction.

The majority of manufacturers of carts, IV poles, mobile workstations and rolling furniture used in hospitals and healthcare facilities put low-quality casters on their units to keep their prices down. Low-quality casters are cheap. And cheap casters are noisy.

Another thing that makes hospital casters noisy is that they have often have wheels using improper tread material. Wheels made from hard rubber, for example, cannot absorb and distribute impact, making caster wheels noisy when rolling.

Then there’s the design of the casters. A common design issue on OEM equipment is a standard swivel lead caster (the distance from the center of the top plate to the center of the axle). This feature is what causes the chatter and flutter associated with any and all carts in a healthcare setting.

Another cause of noise is casters that have no bearings at all. The majority of casters on most OEM carts lack bearings altogether. In their place is a metal axle that grinds on the plastic core of the wheel as the wheel rotates, producing noise.

QUALITIES OF QUIET HOSPITAL CASTERS

If the casters on any of your hospital carts, IV poles, mobile workstations and other equipment are too noisy, you need to replace them with quieter casters. Look for 3 things in your replacement casters—the correct wheel material, proper bearings and an extended swivel lead caster.

Look for wheels made from high-quality material such as polyurethane. These wheels store and exude energy to reduce noise-causing vibrations. In the process, they deliver a smooth and quiet ride.

Also look for casters that feature sealed precision bearings. Quality bearings distribute loads, reduce friction and reduce noise.

Extended swivel leads allow the caster to trail properly, eliminating the chatter and flutter, and drastically reducing the noise within the facility.

RESULTS TO EXPECT BY INSTALLING QUIET HOSPITAL CASTERS

Once you replace your noisy casters with casters that have the right wheels and that are built with bearings, you will immediately notice a drop in the level of noise in your healthcare facility. You should expect the noise level caused by casters to drop significantly.

You should also expect to notice that your patients are resting and sleeping better, and that their improved sleep enhances their patient experience overall.

CONCLUSION

This brings us full circle to your HCAHPS Scores. Once you replace your noisy commodity casters with quiet casters, you should start seeing your noise-related HCAHPS Scores improve. Remember, key questions in the HCAHPS survey deal with how quiet your facility is (as far as your patients are concerned).

When noise is the top complaint among your patients, making your casters quieter is bound to improve the patient experience—and increase your HCAHPS Scores.

By the way, our CC Apex Wheels are instrumental in reducing noise levels in healthcare facilities. Read our case study on Making Hospital Carts Quieter and More Ergonomic.