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IoT-Backed Asset Management: The Key to Better Healthcare
Life Sciences

IoT-Backed Asset Management: The Key to Better Healthcare

By streamlining and automating workflows, IoT-enabled asset management can enhance the quality and timing of patient care, increase operational efficiencies for staff, and empower data-backed, evidence-based decision making.

When we think about healthcare, we often think about the people on both sides of treatment – patients and staff. Yet, of equal importance are the processes, systems, and workflows that enable medical professionals to deliver care.

Leveraging IoT for asset management streamlines and optimizes clinical operations, and the healthcare sector has taken notice – with the IoT industry projected to be worth $6.2 trillion by 2025, and around 30% (or about $167 billion) of that market coming from healthcare.

Clinicians and patients alike benefit from an IoT-enabled asset management strategy that helps increase the availability of mission critical resources, enhance treatment from care providers, who gain more free time to focus on patients, and even promotes staff safety when dangerous incidents arise. What’s more, data transparency and visualization provide a concrete foundation with which to make evidence-based decisions that can lead to higher patient satisfaction and profitability.  

Promote Better, Faster Patient Care

Without the proper tools, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to provide timely care for patients, and the numbers don’t lie. According to a Cardinal Health survey, nearly half, or 40% of health care providers revealed they’ve canceled a surgical case, with nearly 70% reportedly delaying cases because of missing supplies.  

Trying to find medical supplies like portable ultrasound machines, pulse oximeters, wheelchairs, or infusion pumps, for example, translates to wasted time that could and should have been used to treat patients – who end up requiring longer hospital stays as a result of delayed treatment. With an asset management system powered by IoT, healthcare professionals are no longer burdened with the tasks of manually locating equipment, expediting the ability to deliver quality care.  

IoT-powered asset tracking technologies like real time location systems (RTLS) automate item finding, so that when supplies are needed, they can be visualized and found whenever and wherever needed. This is even more beneficial for larger, more complex medical networks – where hundreds of thousands of assets are shared by multiple users across various buildings, floors, sites, and locations.  

Increase Operational Efficiencies for Hospital Staff  

With projections indicating a shortage of anywhere between 54,000 and 140,000 physicians by 2033, the need for intelligent asset management technologies is urgent to better utilize time, maximize the availability of resources, and prevent overburdening of staff.  

Antiquated, legacy systems and dated processes, many of which rely on manually tracking and accounting for high-value assets via spreadsheets and visual inspections, is labor-intensive, counter productive, and naturally results in human error. This leads to burnout for clinical staff already strained under high pressure to perform in a chaotic, time-critical environment.

IoT-powered visibility into where equipment is at all times empowers healthcare staff with more efficiency by identifying when an item was last used or if it needs to be replaced. Automated asset management can assist with the remote monitoring and management of medical equipment inventories, helping to improve workflows and maintenance operations, while reducing costs incurred by last-minute orders to right size inventories.

What’s more, asset management can help to monitor temperatures of refrigerators and -80ºC freezers, vital for automating compliance audits and preventing spoilage or prolonged dwell times to avoid unnecessary waste of crucial, thermosensitive supplies, such as vaccines.  

Enhance Staff Safety  

In addition to locating equipment and supplies, asset tracking technology can be leveraged to locate people, which enables faster response times when workplace safety is compromised. Violence is prevalent in medical facilities, and the impact of COVID has undeniably compounded this problem. In a recent survey by Preceptyx, a reported 92% of healthcare workers reportedly experienced workplace violence in April of 2022 – with nine in ten affected, or in close proximity to violence from a patient or a patient’s caregiver. As a result, more than half of employees needed to call security or required intervention from another coworker to handle these instances.  

Emergency rooms have an even higher propensity for safety incidents, with statistics showing the ER as a high-risk, high frequency area for violence. Incidents happen more frequently at night, between 11 pm – 7 am. This poses a massive threat to the personal safety of staff, negatively impacts morale, decreases productivity, and increases turnover as a result of trauma-induced resignations.  

The need for proactive, technology-enabled alert systems is dire to safeguard employees. In the event of duress, staff can take confidence in safety enhancements enabled by BLE-based (Bluetooth Low Energy) IoT sensors. Clinicians can activate push-button, wearable distress devices to provide their precise real-time location, where help can be dispatched quickly for assistance. The resulting safety is invaluable, and crucial, for both protecting staff and ensuring business continuity when and where incidents arise.  

Empower Evidence-Based Decisions

A recent global survey found that in a normal work week, 56% of frontline healthcare professionals spend their time on administrative tasks rather than caring for patients. Human-intensive working processes, data silos, and lack of a centralized platform for visualizing equipment status and location drastically reduces the time and ability for professionals to make strategic, informed decisions.

When it comes to the operation and management of a hospital’s assets, managing inventory levels is fundamental, requiring consistent review to assess the flow of patients and decision making associated with resource capacity to render treatment accordingly.  

Accurate, real-time data provides clinicians with a visual representation of medical supplies, helping to foster a better understanding of what equipment hospitals have, where devices are located, how they’re being used and even how they’re performing. Transparency into utilization rates, or the frequency with which each piece of equipment is used, can help to improve purchasing decisions, and create proactive planning rather than a reactive strategy. Data transparency also illuminates insights into maintenance planning based on utilization and asset availability – helping to ensure functionality and accessibility of equipment during maintenance periods, fundamental for operational continuity in high-traffic areas like emergency departments and operating rooms.  

Additionally, real-time insights help to convey information associated with any devices needing repairs, replacements, or retirement – empowering data-backed decision making across medical facility networks. This helps to reduce operational costs, garnering more opportunities for profitability, while establishing a better roadmap to plan for and sustain operations today and well into the future.  

MachineQ for Indoor Asset Tracking

With MachineQ, healthcare enterprises of all sizes benefit from a single provider that delivers deployment services and all of the hardware, software, connectivity, and maintenance needed to quickly deploy a 2.4Ghz Low Energy-based asset tracking solution – simplifying implementation and removing the burden form internal IT teams. With MachineQ, medical facilities can realize immediate ROI, while benefitting from rapid-fire deployment, ongoing assistance including day-two support, and significant cost savings.  

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