When hospital staff can’t locate necessary medical equipment in a timely manner, patients suffer.
They linger in emergency departments while unit staff search for the equipment needed to safely care for patients upon transfer to the floor.
They wait for antibiotic treatment as staff try to locate a clean, available IV pole and pump. An irregular heart rhythm may go undetected as staff scramble to locate a clean telemetry unit.
Such delays can negatively affect patient outcomes. Studies have shown, for instance, that effective post-operative infection control is best achieved if patients receive prescribed pre-operative antibiotics within 30 minutes to one hour pre-incision. If the medication doesn’t get into the patient until right before surgery because staff couldn’t access a pump, the patient is at increased risk of infection.
A hospital asset tracking system can help your staff efficiently provide excellent patient care – which, in turn, is linked to positive clinical outcomes.
Hospital Equipment Tracking Saves Staff Time (& Supports Patient Care)
According to a survey by Nursing Times, more than one-third of nurses spend at least an hour searching for medical equipment such as thermometers, IV poles, and pumps during an average hospital shift – and another hour helping staff on other wards locate items. In a month, a nurse may spend up to 40 hours – the equivalent of one whole work week – tracking down necessary equipment.
That is a massive waste of time and expertise. Especially in the midst of a critical staffing shortage.
Patients' needs don’t stop while staff search for equipment.
To satisfy patient needs in less-than-ideal circumstances, nursing staff sometimes use compromising “workarounds” to compensate for the lack of available equipment. A 2014 study found that nurses who were unable to access necessary equipment sometimes gathered equipment from the dirty utility room or other patient rooms — a practice which increases the risk of infection transmission.
In contrast, staff who work at hospitals that utilize an effective asset tracking system can locate needed equipment in seconds. The SwipeSense asset tracking system, for instance, includes Real-Time Location System (RTLS) tags that can be attached to all kinds of equipment – IV and epidural pumps, telemetry units, thermometers, pulse oximeters, wheelchairs, stretchers, etc. The tags electronically communicate with the location hub network, so staff can simply enter whatever they’re looking for in a computerized dashboard and immediately see where the necessary equipment is located.
No more wasted hours searching! Instead, staff can use that time to care for patients.
Healthcare Asset Tracking Makes Economic Sense
The average hourly salary for a Registered Nurse is now more than $30 per hour. That’s a fair price for competent, compassionate nursing care. It’s a lot to pay for time spent searching for an IV pole, though.
Research has consistently shown that nurses spend 10% or more of their time on non-nursing activities — and that it’s much more efficient and effective for skilled nurses to devote their time to patient care.
To facilitate patient care, hospitals often purchase excess equipment to ensure that staff will have necessary supplies on hand. And while it’s true that a surplus of equipment like IV pumps and wheelchairs can decrease the amount of time staff spend searching for supplies (and increase the time they spend on direct patient care), over-buying supplies is costly. Yet hospitals typically have approximately 25% more devices than can be used at any one time, and equipment may remain idle and unused for days or weeks.
It's much more cost-effective to keep tabs on the equipment you already own. A healthcare asset tracking system can even help you prevent premature equipment loss or damage by immediately notifying staff when patient care equipment (a telemetry unit, for instance) enters non-designated areas (like the laundry room).
Excellent Patient Outcomes Require the Right Staff & the Right Equipment, in the Right Place
Your clinical staff can do their best work – and optimize patient outcomes – if they have the proper equipment in the proper place. An asset tracking system helps them provide efficient, cost-effective, quality patient care.