It is estimated that around £900 million is wasted in nursing time each year. Healthcare professionals spend their time searching for missing medical equipment and unplanned equipment maintenance. Limited visibility of medical equipment is having a significant impact on patient care.
Healthcare has been in a perfect storm for quite some time with the world not being prepared for COVID-19. With an overwhelming number of patients, nurses and doctors having to self-isolate, healthcare facilities had unparalleled demand, a very limited and fluctuating supply of healthcare professionals, and an unprepared medical situation.
As we are moving towards normalisation, healthcare organisations are now focussed on efficiency gains.
The need for improved visibility of medical equipment
In the healthcare industry, one mistake can significantly affect operations within a facility. Asset management is vital to ensure operations are running safely and efficiently.
Lack of asset management poses a risk to any asset-intensive facility – especially in the healthcare field. Often, facilities will use outdated systems to track and monitor digital assets such as patient records. This is done by using spreadsheets to record important information. Whilst some may argue that spreadsheets are useful to collect and find information, it also leaves room for human error. In 2020, nearly 16,000 COVID-19 cases were left unreported due to using spreadsheets to report this information.
Healthcare facilities have the responsibility to dispose of waste safely and securely so that it doesn’t affect the public or the environment. Asset management software can ensure waste is disposed of appropriately, meets regulatory standards, and keep a record of how this waste is disposed of.
Implementing asset management software can ease the unsustainable strain we are currently seeing on GP practices. Doctors are struggling to care for patients, with more patients coming in and less staff being available due to self-isolation, strikes and a lack of funding.
Asset management software can be used to monitor patient records without the risk of loss or damage, which would increase the stress and difficulty on staff. Even pre-pandemic general practices were struggling with a lack of investments, high workloads, and workforce problems, according to Dr. Becks Fisher. COVID-19 has made work even harder so all the support doctors and nurses can get to track and manage equipment and records would significantly improve workloads and patient care.
Saving time and money by tracking medical equipment
Healthcare facilities are often spread across multiple sites, which can prove to be difficult when managing assets.
Asset management gives healthcare professionals the ability to track and manage the inventory of physical assets such as blood pressure machines, medication, or even patient documents. Without asset management software in a healthcare facility, staff can quickly become overwhelmed with the laborious task of locating medical equipment or dealing with unplanned maintenance problems. This inevitably slows down the time it takes to care for patients, which in turn prolongs waiting times and leaves a lack of beds available with more delays and cancellations.
GS1 UK found that, on average, nurses spend a third of their time trying to locate medical equipment. If a nurse needs to quickly find an infusion pump, they may not be aware that another member of staff is using it, or it may be offsite. Without this information, nurses can spend a long part of their shift locating gear only for it is not available to them at all. This also heavily impacts patient care as the patient who needs the infusion pump will have their wait prolonged further.
Healthcare professionals can easily keep track of medical equipment by using asset management software. They will have access to a detailed inventory which includes data such as the quantity of PPE available. By having this information readily available, nurses will spend less time searching for the medical gear that they need, which leaves more time to care for patients.
Implementing this software also results in any maintenance of assets being planned for in advance. This reduces any disruption by allowing repairs to be carried out during less busy periods and helps facilities keep track of stock levels and the location of equipment, which prevents them from bulk buying and reduces costs.
Staff can easily predict and plan the number of items they need to purchase using asset management tools. This minimises the waste of multiple resources because they have an insight into the inventory and won’t need to bulk buy equipment. Instead, they can make use of the equipment available as they will be able to track the location and see if any maintenance is required.
Without asset management software’s ability to keep track of physical assets, the chance of equipment being stolen from facilities significantly increases. This results in an unexpected financial burden upon a healthcare facility that will need to find the money to replace stolen physical assets. Some asset management software systems provide theft alerts to ensure expensive and valuable assets are not stolen and save the facility a huge amount of money. Around US$4,000 worth of equipment is stolen or lost from medical facilities per bed each year in the US alone.
The aftereffects of good healthcare asset management
Asset management in healthcare provides staff with detailed insights into tracking and managing their assets, which in turn reduces the amount of time locating assets or disruption from maintenance. This enhances patient care as staff have more time to focus on their patients, which means less waiting times and more beds available for new patients. Using asset management software to maintain assets, such as medical equipment, improves the reliability and efficiency of care.
Healthcare asset management manages and maintains machinery, equipment, and physical assets within a healthcare facility. This is done most cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. Assets can include wheelchairs and beds, heating, refrigeration, and ventilators. Healthcare facilities contain large amounts of these physical assets that need to be kept in reliable condition so that the healthcare facility is running efficiently. This also means that well-maintained equipment works for longer and has fewer disruptions.
Assets are a crucial part of healthcare facilities, and asset management software is a vital part of an efficient operation. Not only does it provide patients with enhanced care due to staff having more time to see to them and saves the facility money, but it provides staff with a less overwhelming space in which their main responsibility is the duty of care. Allowing staff not to worry about locating missing assets or coming across last-minute maintenance issues eases the stress of their job significantly.
Prasanna Kulkarni is a Product Architect at Comparesoft.
This article appears in Omnia Health magazine. Read the full issue online today.
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