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Guest View: Keeping assets in check in healthcare

Eric Lim | Aug. 16, 2013
It is imperative for healthcare institutions to keep track of their mobile assets be it mission-critical equipment or patient care devices.

With more established standards and global deployment, 1D and 2D barcodes are still more widely used across healthcare systems in Asia. A Wi-Fi based Real Time Location System (RTLS) can continuously track the location of tagged items as they move around your care environment, actively "calling out" their location as often as you choose. When used together, barcodes and RFID technology can complement each other and help tighten asset control, lower costs, and improve productivity.

Preventive care, preventive maintenance

Emergencies are an everyday occurrence in hospitals and it is a race against time because every moment matters - which is why it is important to bring the necessary equipment to patients as soon as possible. Healthcare staff need to focus on mitigating emergencies and must have access to medical assets at all times.

It may not be an uncommon sight to see nurses, cleaners, or even security guards leaving their posts to help locate a misplaced piece of equipment - a wheelchair, for example - in a hospital. Healthcare providers also wrestle with asset hoarding, lost or missing assets, and equipment unavailability due to unplanned downtime. All of this results in higher asset spend and equipment substitution, eventually increasing the risks and dangers in patient care delivery. In an environment where life-threatening emergencies are a daily occurrence, the ability to locate equipment when it is needed is crucial.

More importantly, the preventive maintenance of medical equipment used for patient care is subject to strict procedures and guidelines recommended by numerous bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO). Such procedures reduce the risk of equipment malfunction that may lead to life-threatening mistakes in patient care. Compliance with maintenance requirements to ensure equipment availability relies on the ability to locate the assets in a timely manner.

Having a robust asset tracking system would eradicate any scenarios whereby medical equipment is used for unforgivably long periods without the proper maintenance that it needs. This would also ultimately lead to reduced failures and increased uptime of equipment, leading to lower maintenance costs and less unplanned maintenance.

SQL View, in collaboration with Motorola Solutions, has come up with a comprehensive facility management solution for hospitals. The solution, an application on mobile devices and handhelds, enables hospitals to manage their complex operations and facilities, from specialised medical facilities and equipment to common building assets. It contributes to minimal equipment downtime, improved operational efficiency and delivery of better patient care, which are the main reasons why hospitals make use of asset tracking.

Gaining full visibility to assets

The adeptness of the supply chain is key to the profitability of any medical facility. This comes second only to quality medical staff and clinical decision support systems. Mobile technologies for voice and barcode data capture in combination with networks that provide real-time, reliable information have led to improved productivity. In addition, the usage of RFID and a real-time location system to locate mobile medical equipment, track staff, improve compliance, and monitor high-risk wandering patients can help healthcare facilities achieve a positive ROI.


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