Keeping track of assets is always an important task, but it is particularly critical in the healthcare industry. In addition to the risk of financial loss, keeping track of medical equipment brings a new angle to the story: patient health. If certain assets are lost, unaccounted for, or missing, the results could be dire for patients in a hospital setting.
Healthcare: Asset Management is Critical
Asset management is much more than a snapshot of current assets. An asset management solution needs to provide information on exactly what is (and should be) available, where it’s being used, its cost, its maintenance history, when it needs replacing, and its check-in/out status — and that is just a sampling of the type of data that should be readily available for analysis.
Problems arise when the ideal scenario, as described above, does not match the operating room reality. In the healthcare industry, someone’s life could be on the line if equipment is not maintained properly or is miscalibrated. Preventive maintenance (which should be a standard feature of asset management platforms) would have fixed the issue long before it became a problem.
Asset and Procurement Management
Another aspect of the healthcare industry is the need to maintain accurate procurement and purchasing data regarding assets. Hospitals use thousands of assets on a daily basis, from near-microscopic surgical tools to room-sized MRI scanners. A wide variety of factors and metrics define assets, making each of them unique:
• Fixed or disposable asset?
• Does it require maintenance? If so, how frequently?
• What is the lifespan of the item and how is it measured: by time or usage?
• Are the items owned or leased?
• If leased, what are the contract details? Are notifications sent out when the lease/contract is about to expire?
In a healthcare environment, procurement data goes hand-in-hand with support details: usage, age, depreciation, and maintenance schedules are all used to ascertain the viability of critical assets in terms of both their usability and cost to the organization.
A cutting-edge asset management solution should be capable of offering procurement capabilities so that asset costs can be measured and evaluated.
Keeping Track of Assets
Healthcare asset managers need to know much more than just asset details; they need to have access to current and detailed data, such as:
• Where is the asset physically located?
• Who is currently using it?
• Do the operators have proper permissions/clearances and training?
• Where is it usually kept? When will it be returned to its base location?
When the number of assets reach into the thousands, which is typically the case in large-scale healthcare environments, technology needs to step in to facilitate the tracking process. For many organizations, barcoding is used to facilitate asset tracking, inventory, and mobile field maintenance. Advanced healthcare environments may also integrate radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to wirelessly keep track of asset movements throughout a building, which is then visually conveyed via mapping software.
Asset management software should be capable of supporting one, or both, of these technologies in order to empower healthcare providers to keep track of their assets.
Asset Management is Not Optional
In the healthcare industry, a comprehensive asset management solution takes on a new level of importance and is not an “optional” software package. Healthcare providers need asset management solutions that are reliable, robust, comprehensive, flexible, and collaborative so that they can deliver high-quality service and care to their patients, while keeping costs and inefficiencies to the minimum.