This is the first in a two-part series. The second is “How to Improve Hospital Asset Management with Location Information”.
Imagine you are a nurse in the intensive care unit, doing your best to care for your patients. Your team and your patients depend on you – and you expect the same from the tools you use to do your work.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the IV pumps, patient monitors, stretchers, and other medical equipment you need are not where they’re supposed to be: you can’t find them. This delays you, frustrates you and your patients, and interferes with quality care.
Nurses have enough to worry about without also having to worry about whether they can find the IV pump they need to manage critical medications. Unfortunately, most places don’t have a good system for tracking these things, and nurses can waste up to 20% of their day hunting around for equipment.
Why is asset management important in healthcare?
If items are not available because they have been misplaced, taken off the premises, or are out of service due to lack of required maintenance, quality of care and patient experience suffers.
Real-Time Loss Prevention
Some critical and expensive equipment used in hospitals is mobile enough to be taken off premises. Example highly mobile and valuable items include patient monitors, Workstations on Wheels, poles, and pumps. With real-time tracking, your security and operations teams will know when these important items exit your facility. At that moment, key team members can receive a real-time notification of where tracked equipment can be found leaving the premises.
Spend Less Time Searching, More Time Finding
The opportunity cost for finding misplaced items is high in a fast-moving hospital setting. Every moment a nurse, doctor, transporter, or any staff member spends to locate missing or lost equipment or devices is time wasted.
With real-time equipment tracking, teams can locate the equipment they need across the campus, and determine which items are closest to hand on a 3-D digital twin of their facility.
When staff cannot find what they need quickly, they have an incentive to hoard things for future use. People may stash needed equipment in a locked office so they do not need to wait for something to be located or brought to them from another department. This causes issues at several levels.
When items are stashed, they’re not available for others. When rented items are stashed, they may not be able to be returned on time. This kind of hoarding drives duplicate purchases and leads to overstocking and underutilization. Some estimate that up to 25% of equipment like IV pumps is unused or under-utilized because of these problems.
Locate Items for Inspection and Replacement
Additionally, hoarding or misplacement interferes with proper inspection. When using a wheelchair or stretcher, the transport team examines whether it is in good working order: no pulls, no rips, wheels are good, and the brakes work well. They do this every time it is used for a patient.
However, non-transport staff may not have this inspection-first training. Someone who is very busy trying to get a wheelchair for someone who is dizzy may not take the time, and that can cause issues.
If someone grabs a stretcher that hasn’t been inspected, it may have something subtle, such as a rip in a corner, something that starts small but might progress. Even small rips may collect bacteria and may cause an infection for a patient, for that reason, even tiny problems like this won’t pass Joint Commission standards.
Once new chairs are ordered, the transport team has two challenges. They must store them and they need to inventory and replace the ones that are unrepairable. If they can find them. According to a hospital transport manager, “once our wheelchairs had the trackers on them, I know which ones I’ve checked and where the missing ones are.”
Hospital care teams depend upon the availability of equipment to manage emergencies and routine care in hospitals. Proactively manage your high-value equipment with location-based hospital asset tracking. You can use proven technology to prevent loss, save time, eliminate hoarding, and locate items for inspection and replacement.
Next, read Gene Baxter’s piece “How to Improve Hospital Asset Management with Location Information via NavvTrack.”
Items to consider including in an asset tracking program:
- Hospital-issued smartphones, and tablets used for e-consults, or translation
- Mobile beds,
- IV pumps,
- Patient monitors
- Mobile telemetry units
- Workstations on wheels (WOWs)
- Portable ultrasound units
- Expensive consumables such as OR and procedural supplies, catheters, implanted devices