Guest post by Kiran Ajaz, technical content writer, EZOfficeInventory.
The healthcare sector is increasingly bombarded with new medical equipment. It is extremely important to maintain equipment efficiency to provide quality care and cut costs. Read on to learn about the equipment concerns of the healthcare sector and how important equipment efficiency can be!
The healthcare industry, whether labs, clinics or hospitals, use a vast variety of specialized equipment, devices, and medications to serve patients better. If you don’t keep track of your equipment, it can result in your staff spending a lot of time in looking for it. This involves putting your patient’s life at stake just because medical equipment you have could not be traced at the point of need. When hospitals have to continuously deal with increased patient demands, understaffing and rising costs, effective equipment management eventually becomes vital.
Let’s take an example of stainless steel surgical instruments and equipment found in a dentist’s office and even hospitals. They cost more than $100,000 and cannot be replaced easily because of limited availability and high costs. The large amount invested is a pretty good reason to track and manage equipment.
Equipment efficiency does not only provide high-quality patient care but also saves cost. Simply put, hospitals need to give high-quality care using fewer resources at a reduced cost. It is important that while you cut the cost, the quality of care should not be compromised. Hospitals and health systems of all sizes can benefit by rethinking factors like the distribution, asset acquisition and management of medical equipment. They can improve their overall capacity, quality of care, workflow and productivity by maintaining the efficiency of their equipment.
Equipment management concerns and importance of equipment efficiency
1. The rise in the number of medical equipment
As the technology advances, it becomes more tightly integrated into patient care. This is the reason that you notice the rise of medical assets across hospitals. In the year 1995, there were 8 devices at the bedside while in the year 2010, there were 14. Such a rise in medical assets comes with additional requirements of reporting and maintaining quality care. Not just that, caregivers no longer have the time to search for equipment and need the assets to be readily available. When they are not readily available, you need to purchase the equipment which is an obvious financial expenditure. Along with that, commitment to an asset expands to maintenance, user training, and service – all of which have an impact on a hospital’s budget.
Among medical equipment, mobile assets are found in thousands and denote tens of millions in total investment. The GE Healthcare states that hospitals own 35000 inventory SKUs and the utilization rate is between 32 percent and 38 percent. This means hospitals are basically overspending billions each year particularly on mobile assets that are not utilized properly. Low utilization rate means a drop in revenue.
It should be remembered that simply cutting down inventory alone is not going to fix under-utilization because workflow has a huge role to play. Hospital managers need to optimize workflow before they try to adjust the number of assets and that can be solved using equipment tracking software. They can easily develop a replacement strategy for equipment using equipment tracking solution. After all, you can’t just decide to purchase a new telemetry monitor when a nurse tells you that she can’t find it in the storage room.
2. Hospital incidents and quality care
The hospital should be able to provide quality care to its patients. Patients should be able to get treatment and care without patient developing infections like post-operative hemorrhages, pulmonary embolisms, respiratory failure and reaction to transfusions. The CDC states that hospital infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99000 related deaths.
Equipment efficiency achieved with an online equipment management system can do wonders. Let’s take an example of preventing the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease in England. When surgical instruments were properly tracked and timely sterilized using a properly maintained sterilizer, it helped the medical specialists to prevent the use of infected instruments with other patients. Preventing the spread of disease actually begins with proper equipment management.
Secondly, having the correct quantity of medical equipment and supplies when needed, helps to prevent patients from being denied any health services. You need to keep accurate and timely data on equipment or supplies when they go low and need to be re-ordered. A medical inventory software can help you do that and enhance the overall performance of employees.
3. Improving overall workflow
Any delay in duties or action by the healthcare system can cause serious consequences. For example, if you take too much time searching for the required equipment or if the lifesaving equipment is not working properly, the patient can get sicker or even pass away. The workforce can establish strict time management practices by using an asset management system wasting lesser time on the whole.
Medical equipment and devices must be regularly maintained to ensure proper functioning so that they are ready to be utilized within moment’s notice by medical professionals. Recording when such huge number of assets were last updated, inspected, replaced or fixed is important for improved workflow. The software solution documents maintenance history which can be accessed when a patient needs it and prevents sudden equipment failures.
For instance, if properly maintained, a microscope can last for about 15 years but only for eight years if not maintained properly. Similarly, sterilizers can last around six years whereas weighing scales and refrigerators for about eight years. Performing preventive maintenance is recommended by the manufacturers to be carried out by trained technicians. It helps your business to extend the life of an equipment. Preventive maintenance can double the lifetime of your equipment and minimize breakdowns.
4. Improving productivity
Most of the healthcare organizations don’t make any connection between acquiring medical equipment, hospital needs or usage patterns. Hospitals usually tend to have about 25 percent more mobile devices than used anywhere else. As a result, the first impact on productivity stems from the equipment itself when they are underutilized.
In hospitals, it is not very uncommon to find assets that have not been used in thirty days. This actually means that equipment is being hoarded in areas of low demand instead of being kept in the right place and in the right condition. The staff then has to spend time searching for the equipment. This search time is yet another factor that decreases productivity. On average, nurses take 20 minutes per shift trying to find the equipment. That is losing $500,000 in non-productive work.
Fortunately, you can improve productivity on both grounds using medical equipment tracking software. When medical equipment is clean, accessible and in good working order, the hospital staff not only becomes more productive but the conditions also become safer for patients. Now whenever a nurse looks for an equipment, it will always be easily found and in good working order.
By improving the above concerns, you increase the overall performance of healthcare industry from improving the equipment efficiency to the value of health care.