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How Hospitals Can Save Money Amid Lingering COVID-19 Challenges

Hospitals, already stretched thin from the lasting effects of COVID-19 and the ongoing Great Resignation, face skyrocketing equipment prices due to the global supply chain crunch and worsening recession. And with Kaufman Hall reporting that hospitals could lose between $53 billion and $122 billion due to the pandemic, it is paramount that these institutions think practically about spending less and saving more in the foreseeable future. 

One of the primary areas that leaders can look to trim costs is equipment. Hospitals must reduce unnecessary purchases while efficiently utilizing the equipment they already have. The best solution to accomplish these tasks is a real-time location system (RTLS). This technology can transform data into hard dollar savings, empowering healthcare staff to make better, more budget-conscious decisions, among many other benefits to hospitals’ bottom line.

Enhance Utilization and Eliminate Unnecessary Purchases

A chronic issue plaguing many hospitals is the under-utilization of assets, resulting in large amounts of wasted resources. A successful RTLS implementation can help teams overcome this problem, giving them a holistic picture of how their equipment and machines move throughout the hospital, down to the individual room. Staff can leverage the data and analytics generated from this asset-tracking technology to adjust and enhance workflows, recognize problematic areas where equipment consistently sits idle (be that in a hallway or a soiled storage closet), and – most importantly – improve equipment utilization. These data-driven and actionable insights from RTLS allow hospitals to maximize the usage of, for example, IV pumps and sell the excess units that are collecting dust. Likewise, the data gathered from RTLS enables hospitals to make better purchasing decisions and reduce rental costs. Moreover, facilities can allocate their saved capital to other programs in need of funds, like recruiting. 

Reduce Costs Associated with Equipment Loss, Theft, and Misplacement 

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From infusion pumps to wound vacs, hospitals make enormous investments in these life-saving pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, due to the mobile nature of these items, they are often misplaced, lost, or – in some cases – stolen. Indeed, two former Beaumont employees and a businessman stole and sold more than $560,000 worth of medical devices and supplies, selling them on the Internet. However, hospitals can leverage the asset-tracking capabilities of RTLS to reduce the costs associated with equipment loss, theft, and misplacement. By deploying RTLS, hospitals gain real-time awareness of their equipment, ensuring these expensive devices aren’t misplaced (in a hallway closet when they should be in a soiled room for recirculation), moved to an unauthorized area, or removed from the building. In particular, industry-leading RTLS solutions help staff quickly locate missing pieces of equipment via mobile apps that isolate the room and guide the staff member to the device. Moreover, with exit monitors, hospital staff will get notified in real-time, eliminating the chances of a costly loss or theft incident.  

Boost Staff Engagement and Combat Burnout 

In addition to pandemic-related challenges, hospitals continue to struggle to attract and hire talent in the wake of the Great Resignation. Burnout is rampant amongst physicians, nurses and other staff members, making it difficult for facilities to retain and develop these workers. Likewise, since the pandemic, an increasing percentage of healthcare workers have expressed the desire to find roles that have a broader impact and contribution to society – spending time searching for medical equipment is not what they have in mind. Through the use of RTLS, hospitals can help their people maximize their time spent serving patients by minimizing the effort wasted rifling through supply closets for one piece of unsoiled equipment. Ultimately, asset tracking technology can help save hospitals money by helping them retain their most important assets, their people. 

Not all RTLS Solutions are Created Equal

RTLS has a storied history with various eras and competing technologies, and it’s critical that hospitals diligently compare the different available offerings. When selecting an RTLS vendor, look for one that leverages the right technology, like cloud and AI. By harnessing the power of these advanced technologies, hospitals can gain the room-level, facility-wide visibility that is required to produce data that can power impactful insights. What’s more, by including cloud and AI as key RTLS evaluation components, hospitals stand to significantly reduce the associated hardware footprint. Finally, pay close attention to how the solution is architected and work with the vendors being evaluated to understand the costs that lie below the waterline, like installation support, networking equipment, or the cost of lost revenue due to the need to close patient rooms while the hardware is installed, or pull wires throughout a facility.  Selecting a vendor who can provide lightweight footprint, room-level accuracy, and real-time analytics is the key to enabling rapid time to value while improving ROI.

Paula Dycaico is Director of Healthcare Product, Cognosos.

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