Hospital asset tracking and management is one of the biggest challenges facing facilities managers, clinical engineers, nurses, healthcare distribution, and transportation services. Although hundreds of hours are spent documenting inventories and actively trying to locate equipment, asset management processes within hospitals are too often highly inefficient and lead to a lower quality of care in some cases. It is estimated that more than one third of nurses spend at least an hour per shift searching for equipment. In the world of healthcare delivery, that time that could undoubtedly be better spent focusing on the patient’s medical needs. In the last decade, wireless hospital asset management (WHAM) has come to the forefront of the hospital technology landscape as one of the most innovative solutions to reducing capital expenditure and operational costs, while simultaneously improving staff efficiency.
“Major factors driving the growth of this market include strong concerns for patient safety, decreasing cost of hardware and software, technological advancements, increasing use in the pharmaceutical industry, and increasing use in hospitals to enhance staff productivity.”
Wireless hospital asset management technology works by giving hospital staff the ability to electronically track, monitor and manage strategic assets in real-time, such as: ventilators for critical care, machinery for ultrasound diagnostics, infusion pumps, defibrillators, portable X-Ray equipment, wheelchairs, and devices used for documenting patient care information. A tag is assigned to each of the assets being monitored, which communicates identity and positional information using the hospital’s existing wireless infrastructure.
These location-aware technologies capture real-time information on key assets and transmit that information to facilities managers in case the asset is misplaced, tampered with or in need of urgent attention following a malfunction. When combined with hospital wayfinding, the location of tagged assets can be displayed on an indoor map, helping staff navigate to the exact location of the equipment using a kiosk, a computer, or a mobile device.
Not only can hospital management use this technology to enhance equipment utilization, but it also helps to reduce operating and maintenance costs. Because every high-value asset is trackable, staff can easily see which equipment is available and pin-point its exact location, saving precious time that goes into quality care and patient safety. Equipment maintenance is improved, allowing for real-time support and resource allocation. This, in turn, also leads to better compliance with regulatory standards, through environmental monitoring and data capture.
In a sector strained by a lack of resources, particularly hospitals with large catchment areas such as those providing health care for veterans, wireless hospital asset management can help decrease the costs of asset maintenance, help improve staff efficiency, and ultimately deliver exceptional patient experiences.
Updated January 1, 2019: This post was originally published on June 1st, 2015 and has been updated to provide more information.