Effective patient care requires the right medical equipment to be ready for use when needed. Given the complex nature of healthcare facilities—with thousands of staff, assets, rooms, patients, and square footage—maintaining appropriate inventory levels and finding the needed equipment can be challenging.
Knowing the status of the equipment in real time, generated by automatic, unbiased sensors, is essential to ensure that clinical staff have what they need to provide the best patient care. Empowered by asset utilization information, administrators will benefit through the ability to make data-driven decisions about equipment redistribution, rental needs, and additional purchases.
Deploying a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) can provide invaluable insights into the actual status of the utilization of clinical assets, however it is crucial for the healthcare organization to define what “asset utilization” actually means to them.
This can be defined as either broad or very detailed—depending on the level of granularity of the installed RTLS hardware and the level of integration with other healthcare information systems.
There are three main ways to determine equipment utilization:
1. Location-based asset utilization
The most common way to define utilization is based purely on the location of the equipment. By knowing that a piece of equipment is in a patient room, you can say it is in use, as it is not available to be redistributed somewhere else. This is the quickest and easiest way to determine the equipment utilization.
2. Interaction-based asset utilization
As healthcare organizations evolve their RTLS deployment and start to tag patients, they can have a more granular view of what is happening. For instance, if an infusion pump is in a room, it will not show as being utilized until a patient’s presence is being reported inthe same room.
3. Usage-based asset utilization
Some organizations might want to define asset utilization as the actual usage of the equipment. For example, an infusion pump would be considered in use only if it is actually pumping. This level of reporting would require direct integration with smart devices.
There are many ways to determine the utilization of clinical assets, and there is no right or wrong way of measuring it. It all depends on how the organization wants to track utilization to make appropriate business decisions.
But one thing is certain—only by deploying an RTLS-enabled asset management solution can healthcare organizations start making evidence-based decisions related to managing their equipment.
All this is possible without needing to throw away current computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). These systems can be enriched with real-time location information, boosting them to the next level of operational intelligence.