Best Practices to Prevent Medical Equipment Loss
By Todd Stewart, Vice President, Enterprise Workflow Solutions
Hospitals have thousands of pieces of mobile medical equipment.
While support staff can’t monitor all this equipment all the time, hospitals can reduce or eliminate equipment from going places it’s not supposed to go.
Think about the expensive, portable equipment in a hospital. For example, a wireless telemetry pack is about the size of a cellphone and can cost $5,000. This type of equipment is often:
- wrapped up with bed linens accidentally (and washed with the hospital laundry)
- thrown in the trash mistakenly
- subject to theft
Telemetry packs are just one example. There are other expensive devices as well. Surgical instruments, such as drills, lasers, and scopes, can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 or more each. Until the staff has conducted an inventory count, the hospital won’t know that equipment is missing.
Hospitals can’t control when someone takes medical equipment, accidentally or intentionally, where it’s not supposed to go. But hospitals can leverage process and technology to monitor the movement of equipment and to keep equipment from leaving the building.
To prevent the loss of medical equipment, one technology to consider is passive RFID. RFID tagging of mobile medical equipment improves the tracking of these assets by automatically identifying and tracking the tags attached to the equipment. These small, inconspicuous tags deliver high value for the dollars spent.
You can’t effectively “organize a search party” when equipment goes missing, so you need a process for loss prevention. With a standardized workflow, the appropriate staff can address the situation in real time. By utilizing business logic, the system can assign work automatically to ensure accountability.
Every hospital faces the challenge of equipment shrinkage. Many hospitals struggle with how to justify spending money to determine the movement of biomedical assets and equipment. Take the opportunity to learn what’s possible and how to solve these real-world challenges.
About the Author
For more than 20 years, Todd Stewart has assisted health systems to achieve continuous process improvement and operational excellence by spending time in hospital settings, on nursing floors, and in operational departments. As Vice President Enterprise Workflow Solutions at Accruent, Todd works with customers to map out short- and long-term goals for sustainable results across a wide variety of healthcare environments, identify gaps and inefficiencies in business processes, and prescribe sustainable solutions to achieve operational excellence. Todd leverages LEAN thinking and new/existing technologies to improve workflow processes and to positively impact operational effectiveness, patient/staff satisfaction, and safety and efficiency across the continuum of care delivery. Todd’s specialties include passive RFID, real-time locating systems (RTLS), and transformational change management in healthcare.