Posted on 10/15/2016

By Kapil Asher, Senior Sales Engineer

I was recently introduced to Pokémon Go by a few friends who are absolutely addicted to the game. I have started playing the game for a couple of weeks now and although I am not as hooked as some of my acquaintances, I am absolutely fascinated by the concept of mobilizing gamers on a global scale. The makers of Pokémon Go have ingeniously taken the beloved card and video game characters to the next level by using mobile technology and the Internet of Things. What makes this game so addictive? Collecting a large quantity of rare Pokémon to level up and win over other players is the obvious answer, but the true reason might be a layer deeper. The quest comes along with the opportunity to explore and learn about the world we live in. It has enabled players to stumble upon a quaint little neighborhood with family owned cafés or discover a monument with special historical significance. It incentivizes players to keep going to the next block and the next neighborhood with the hope of seeing something new.


Funny as it may sound, the concepts of Pokémon Go can be applied to medical device management and distribution in hospitals. Consider the hospital facility as a world full of Pokémon of different types, capabilities and rarities which can be correlated to commonly used mobile medical devices such as Infusion Pumps, Defibrillators, Ventilators etc. Different device types have their unique purpose, are usually scattered in different locations and are finite in number. A few of them are expensive and are used for very specific treatments - rare to come by. Team members responsible for maintaining these devices by cleaning, servicing and repairing them are our fearless players who are constantly looking for them when they are not in use so they can be quickly turned around into a patient-ready state and reserved for immediate or future use.


The only difference is that these team members currently have no way of knowing where to find these devices in the vastness of a typical hospital. Equipment handlers usually round entire facilities to gather soiled medical devices resulting in an inefficient use of time. Devices placed in soiled rooms just after a scheduled round is completed may sit there for hours before the next round is conducted, which compels nurses to clean them and use them again with no regards to proper compliance. Failure to gather unused devices in a timely manner ultimately results in a perceived shortage that leads to issues like hoarding, capital expenditure on acquiring or renting new devices and the expense trail of maintaining them for years. Along with an inefficient use of time, uninformed rounding can also be demotivating for our tireless team members who are constantly bombarded with equipment delivery requests and are unable to fulfill them due to lack of inventory.


When I laid my hands on Pokémon Go for the first time, I could not help but draw parallels between the game and Accruent's IoT platform that integrates with wireless tracking sensors providing information on the real time location of unused medical devices. On a mobile application, the equipment handlers get real time notifications on the location of pickup, and quantity and type of devices. The user interacts with the application directly to feed the progress of the pickup to the backend system that records these data points for reporting on the overall productivity of an employee or a shift. Since time is utilized efficiently and productivity can now be truly measured, employees are motivated to perform better and compete with each other or with another shift to provide the shortest pickup and delivery times. Sound familiar? Pokémon Go players do the exact same thing to level up against other players.


Although, as I concluded in the first paragraph, the ultimate reward is a layer deeper. This ecosystem generates an efficient churn of soiled to clean equipment that helps bring an enhanced level of patient care, as they are not waiting for an unwarranted amount of time to get the treatment they need. They are being helped by a clinical staff that has one less thing to worry about and can channel their focus completely on care giving.