In December, it was reported by Modern Healthcare that millions in equipment was missing from LSU Hospitals. Nearly $6 million in state-owned hospital equipment couldn’t be located, and millions more bought for the newly opened New Orleans public hospital had not been tracked properly.
With healthcare facilities across the country looking to tighten both the budget and security, instances such as this demonstrate the critical need for total control and oversight of medical equipment and assets. Beyond the potential legal disaster that could come from leaked patient information, the financial impact of consistently re-buying what you have already purchased can put a massive strain on an already overworked budget.
From a productivity standpoint, hospital staff is most likely to feel the pinch caused by lost or stolen devices and equipment. Complaints about missing wheelchairs, IV equipment and other items lead to hospital floors hoarding equipment to guarantee access when the need arises. Lack of visibility into the whereabouts of some of the more critical devices can cause discomfort for patients who must wait while a nurse or other staff member tracks down needed equipment. It has been shown that approximately 33% of nurses spend at least an hour per day searching for equipment, which is a rather shocking number, considering that hospitals frequently deal with staff that is already stretched thin. Time is an exceptionally valuable commodity in these facilities; losing an hour of employee productivity per day to equipment searches serves to illustrate just how serious and pervasive the problem is within the industry.
Hospital asset management software is gaining ground as a solution for healthcare facilities looking to gain more control and visibility of their assets. Usage of technologies such as RFID, global positioning system (GPS), barcode scanning and graphical mapping tools has been shown to drop the lost hour down to as little as 10 minutes per day, a massive savings both in terms of employee productivity and costs. As these asset management systems become quicker to deploy and more affordable, the healthcare industry should perhaps be asking itself whether it can afford not to implement one.