5 ways asset tracking is disrupting healthcare – Ken Moran.

There aren’t many organisations or indeed organisational structures that manage more critical assets each day than hospitals and the wider trust clusters in which they operate. The vast plethora of beds, pumps, respirators, scanners, oxygen cylinders and monitors ensure that the NHS and their private counterparts have a monumental asset management job on their hands, never mind the even more serious job of looking after all UK citizens.

If you’ve seen a news bulletin or read a newspaper (online, obviously!) in the past two years, you’ll know that our hospitals and wider health service is at breaking point. The system is overloaded with patients, whilst simultaneously seeing its staff levels at record lows due to unprecedented sickness, stress and the need to isolate. As such, patient waiting times are through the proverbial roof, resulting in a health crisis that just continues to grow, being handled by a service (of utterly brilliant individuals) that just continues to suffocate.

In a recent article we spoke of the huge amounts of assets in a typical hospital, and how asset tracking is essential to allow healthcare professionals to actually administer professional healthcare. A huge barrier to this is the fact that staff waste too much time searching for medical devices and key equipment.

 To alleviate this core issue, many hospitals are now using specific RFID tracking solutions to both reduce misplacement of equipment, and automatically locate devices when they are lost. At Kinsetsu, addressing this problem is at the core of what we do, so here’s a quick guide to how location solutions are making hospitals better places to both give and receive healthcare.

 Enhancing patient care  

 The goal of any healthcare organisation is to provide optimal care for all patients, but this desired standard is often jeopardised by asset management issues. Trained and professional healthcare professionals are often overburdened with unrelated tasks such as hunting for missing assets, or the unplanned maintenance of devices. These issues massively impact patient care and the overall healthcare experience, stretching waiting times and inevitably reducing the numbers of available beds. 

Healthcare asset management systems ensure that devices and kit are fully usable and fit-for-purpose, with their unique locations fully understood at all times and in real-time. This alone ensures healthcare professionals can devote more time to those of us that in their care. 

Boosting productivity  

According to a survey by NursingTimes.net, over 30% of NHS nurses reported they spent around one hour per shift simply looking for equipment. If one considers the number of hours collated in one hospital over 24 hours, never mind the impact this has across the NHS each year, it equates to a staggering loss of financial and care resources.

In contrast, for those with asset tracking systems in place, devices and equipment are easily and quickly located, therefore minimising ‘hunting’ time and maximising attention to where it ought to go.

Additionally, proper asset management ensures that maintenance and downtime is more effectively planned and controlled. Staff can be informed of precisely when equipment will be serviced, and decide the ideal times for maintenance based on usage rather than outdated schedules – which pay no consideration to actual device condition.

Planned maintenance also ensures that items can be transferred from one location to another, and that any specific ward or hospital site has all required assets for procedures and patient emergencies. The data provided by such systems ensures hospitals can confidently and productively plan their daily activities.

Reducing time and financial inefficiencies  

Effective asset management systems are critical in not only reducing hospital and trust expenditures, but eradicating inefficient use of budgets. For example, asset tracking software analyses data and trends relevant to each user type within healthcare, and therefore provides benchmarks and forecasting for future trust expenditure and planning. Kinsetsu’s platform enables cardiac teams (for example) to quickly view only the kit relevant to them, so only necessary data is communicated.

By efficiently mining the data about how specific devices are used, hospitals can easily predict and plan which items to purchase in future asset procurements – minimising waste of multiple resource pots. Trusts can also use this data to efficiently plan the amounts and types of assets required for new healthcare facilities in times of growth. 

 Providing accurate asset insights and reports 

Asset tracking software comes with an array of various functionalities. Most systems focus on compliance and reporting, making it easier to keep track of audits and data. Automation helps overcome the drawbacks and limitations of manual asset tracking – including low speed, human error, considerable paperwork and outdated spreadsheets.

This information makes it much easier to make informed decisions on asset lifecycles, maintenance, and compliance with regulations. It also simplifies the provision of data required for inspections and management meetings. 

With manual recording and management, information is only as accurate as what someone has managed to write down. Moreover, bypassing unnecessary maintenance (for example, on equipment that hasn’t even been used since it’s last maintenance) significantly reduces equipment turnover.

Estimating stolen and misplaced items   

Missing equipment and supplies are another common yet avoidable problem in healthcare (some hospitals losing up to 25% of their wheelchairs each year) that RFID asset management solutions protect against.

Tailored alerts, for example, inform personnel when certain assets have not been returned during a specific timeframe, or when a device leaves or crosses a specific perimeter (such as a ward or hospital building). Hospitals can quickly identify and locate their assets, and respond to alarms when they exit a particular zone.

These simple yet practical steps, all managed by RFID asset tags and fixed readers, significantly reduce equipment thefts and the associated (and unimaginable) costs of searching for and replacing lost or stolen NHS assets.

The healthcare industry is undoubtedly one of the most complex environments in the world, but today we have the technology and capabilities to create perfectly tailored asset management solutions – solutions that give hospitals, nursing homes, and medical schools the asset-tracking capabilities that save both lives and money.

Enterprise communication specialists Avaya, Inc. report the biggest challenge in healthcare today is that overextended clinical staff are spending too much time on non-patient care activities. We are fixing this, empowering healthcare providers with precise knowledge of what they have, where they have it, and where it needs to go. By 2022 over 95% of hospitals plan to expand usage of locating technology to track medical devices, supplies and specimens, and we at Kinsetsu would be delighted to discuss with you how we can customise the right solution for your organisation and assets.

 

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