Location-based technologies in healthcare asset management

The management of mobile medical equipment is a significant challenge for many hospitals.  An average mid-size hospital has thousands of mobile devices in continuous motion.  Keeping track of their whereabouts and being able to locate them quickly is essential to delivering quality care, performing preventive maintenance, handling recalls, preventing theft, finding missing equipment, increasing staff efficiency and optimizing asset utilization.  In most cases, healthcare asset management requires knowing assets’ actual location in real time and historically over time.

Equipment Utilization

Hospitals must manage their assets to ensure that resources are deployed effectively to deliver the best possible outcomes for their patients.  However, managing thousands of assets in constant daily motion is very difficult.  Just about every piece of valuable equipment in a hospital is mobile or on wheels. Activities such as finding a piece of equipment may consume a large portion of a caregiver’s shift, increasing costs, slowing patient flow and impacting patient care.

Complexity increases with product recalls, mandatory maintenance schedules, equipment rentals, asset misplacement and outright theft.  Some organizations manage the challenge by over-purchasing the most needed and hard-to-find equipment, negatively impacting the bottom line.

Understanding equipment utilization, which includes knowing where the equipment is located at all times, who uses it and for how long, is essential for maintaining optimal inventory levels, planning purchases and managing rentals.

Solution: Affixing Wi-Fi tags to all equipment, owned and rented, enables Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to pinpoint the whereabouts of all equipment at all times.

Preventive Maintenance

Medical equipmentPreventive maintenance of medical equipment used for patient care is subject to procedures and guidelines recommended by numerous bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and in the US, The Joint Commission (http://www.jointcommission.org).  The goal of these procedures is to reduce the risk of equipment malfunction that may lead to life-threatening mistakes in patient care.  Compliance with maintenance requirements to ensure equipment availability relies on the ability to locate the equipment in a timely manner for cleaning and re calibration.

Solution:  Wi-Fi tags affixed to all equipment enables Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to track its location.  Both real time location and historical location over time are available.  Business Intelligence applications can reconstruct the equipment whereabouts, identify who used it, for how long and estimate the idle time.

Preventing Theft, Misplacement and Hoarding

Shrinkage in equipment stock may be a result of misplacement, theft or even hoarding for future  use.  Having the ability to determine when valuable equipment is removed from the premises is an obvious plus.  Determining where all equipment is located at any time reduces the incentive to hoard it, while increasing confidence that it will be found when needed.

Solution:  Wi-Fi tags affixed to all equipment enables Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to rapidly find it when needed.

Handling Recalls

When recalls take place, effected equipment must be tracked down and removed from use until it is repaired or replaced.  Rapidly locating the effected equipment is essential to reducing liability and risk while avoiding  wasted valuable staff time.

Solution:  Wi-Fi tags affixed to all equipment, both owned and rented, enables  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to rapidly find its location

Reducing Unnecessary Rentals

When are equipment rentals necessary?  For how long?  Is there any rental equipment sitting idle?  Are rentals addressing peak utilization or just a quick substitute for needed capital expenditures?  Those questions are easily answered once the owned and rental equipment utilization is understood.

Solution:  Wi-Fi tags affixed to all rental equipment enables Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to provide their location in real time and historically over time.  This enables Business Intelligence applications to determine who uses them, where and for how long.  Idle times are quickly identified from this data, informing the optimal rental strategy for each equipment category.

Automating Work orders

Health Care Workers in the HospitalWhen equipment breaks down, it is often simply pushed to a corner because it takes too long to complete a repair work order.  As a result, equipment may be left unused and unattended for extended periods of time, reducing service and triggering additional costs, and maybe rentals to cover the need.  On the other hand, increased asset utilization, maintenance compliance, and increased staff efficiency are all within reach though automation.

Solution: Buttons in the Wi-Fi tags affixed to the equipment may be programmed to request service, generating an automated work order at the push of a button. Further, if certain classes of equipment sit idle for some time, a monitoring application could automatically request an inspection and possibly service at its current location.

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