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Clinical asset tracking is all about finding the asset you want, when you want it. Clinical staff spend a lot of wasted time searching for an asset, which sometimes are stored for safe keeping in out of the way places.
Further, when trying to locate a pre-stored asset, it might well have been found by another person and be in use so not available.
The time wasted in finding assets is detrimental to the staff morale, but more importantly leaves a patient without a piece of equipment they need. We've been working across a number of installations and the following blog summarises some of the use cases and lessons learnt.
The image on the right shows part of the answer: tags that are specifically installed on assets to allow for easy tracking.
We've been working with CenTrak a little while now and deployed these tags here in Australia. The tags are waterproof and contain an anti tamper mechanism, so you know if one has been removed from an asset.
Some of the tags include a button to allow for the indication of a state – for example that a bed needs to be cleaned, or an asset recalibrated.
The first lesson learnt is to define your use cases: you can do a lot of
things, but what's important. Typically, you'd want to tag all of one
asset type across the site - probably starting with the assets that are
either in the shortest supply, or are the hardest to find.
Once installed, the tags are configured in a database and can then be searched and displayed on the maps as necessary. The assets can also have other data fields attached – for example which department owns the equipment or its last calibration date, or the geofenced zones within which it belongs.
This information allows a user to search for the nearest device to them, tracking it down with a much greater ease.The tag is coded as a bladder scanner, or an infusion pump, or a mobile X-Ray - you then search for device type.
The system also brings in other opportunities. Geofencing allows for the alert when assets leave a pre-defined geographic area – for example if someone takes an asset to another ward.
The use of par levels is also an interesting option. You could configure a specific store room on a ward and set up a par level for equipment – once the level of a type of device drops below the pre-determined level, the biomedical staff can be alerted to bring a new device to return the par levels to the normal state.
Conversely, if you have a dirty equipment store room, the biomedical staff can be auto alerted when items requiring cleaning are placed in this room.
Fortunately, the Olinqua IGNITE system is pretty flexible and we've been able to configure geofencing with this.
The image illustrates the web based front end. This shows a number of different assets, with different symbols, based on their function.
The staff can search on an asset and then pull up various details in
relation to that asset – this is shown on the image below. The right hand side of the
screen, where the asset details are displayed.
This screen shot is taken from Olinqua IGNITE, which we've used to provide a nice looking front end. CenTrak can be integrated with a number of different manufacturers and front ends, but works well with Olinqua and we've used this platform as it allows us to grow with the use cases and add more functionality as we go.
The assets are showing as unnamed, but can be updated.
Using a GUI front end, allows for assets to be searched not just on asset type, but on which department it belongs to, or to show you all assets that belong to your department that have left the geofenced area. You can start to form some clever rules in regards to locating your assets.
Its not only clinicians who can make use of this - BEMS and Biomedical often need to track down assets for calibration, cleaning and maintenance and this system helps avoid those elusive last few assets that can't be located.
For Cisco fans out there, the system can take in multiple sources of location data, such as the MSE and CenTrak. IGNITE then uses an algorithm to determine the best data to use and place the asset accordingly.
Asset tracking is much more than just putting a dot on a map. If you really want to make the most use of the technology, you need to integrate it into the business - and the processes and people that use those assets. You can certainly make some smart use of the technology, providing auto alerts on assets that are moving to locations they're not meant to.
In its most basic form, why would you have highly qualified, in demand clinicians walking around a facility to track a piece of equipment down, when you have technology that can help. It will improve the lives of the clinicians and might do more than that for the life of a patient.