The emergence of the Internet of things or IoT is the dawn of an era of the web enablement of the physical world. With the help of internet connectivity and a host of web devices and sensors, IoT has dramatically improved the quality of both life and work today. It has increased efficiency, cut down costs, and decreased human efforts. The IoT invasion is so strong that its global market will reach $7.4 trillion by 2020.
One of the major applications of IoT is in asset management and tracking. IoT is said to provide at least a 25% reduction in costs by effective asset management and tracking in healthcare.
A Cisco survey reveals that the potential bottom-line savings in organizations obtained by harnessing IoT would be nearly $8 trillion in the next 10 years. Of this, 25% would be from effective asset utilisation, amounting to $2.1 trillion.
Asset Management and Tracking in Healthcare
Asset management involves the management of all physical assets of an organization along with their details like location, status, due dates etc. Asset management and tracking has become one of the main priorities in healthcare as it saves hospitals both time and money.
In a hospital, the physical assets may include the medical equipment, supplies, infrastructure and even staff and physician services. Every hospital has to consciously track its physical assets as their chances of damage, demurrage, loss or repair are high. Hospitals tend to lose money due to improper or inefficient asset tracking by ordering unwanted supplies, duplication of orders, medicine short supply, equipment not being serviced on time etc. Patients tend to lose time, money and patience due to long queues at hospitals waiting for physicians, scanning, beds, nurses etc. Alert asset management can effectively reduce these delays and ensure patient satisfaction and profitability for the hospital.
How Can IoT Help in Asset Management in Healthcare?
With the increasing influx of patients, hospitals are under constant pressure to constantly track their medical supplies and equipment and ensure that they are properly utilised. Improper inventory management leads to ineffective use of organisational assets leading to heavy losses. Similarly, usage of manual systems and outdated equipment may lead to operational errors which are detrimental to the hospital’s efficiency and integrity. This is why hospitals are trying to harness the IoT in asset management and tracking to ensure both profitability and patient satisfaction.
IoT can be effectively utilised for asset management in healthcare in the following ways.
Inventory Management – Monitoring Medical Supplies
IoT uses the technology of RFID tags to track and monitor the healthcare assets like infusion pumps, blood bags and medical supplies. These Radio-frequency identification(RFID) tags monitor the temperature, humidity, location and utilisation of these resources. This helps to evaluate the shelf life, deterioration time and expiry date of supplies. Accurate stocking, preventive maintenance and correct demand forecasting of these supplies lead to optimal asset management thereby reducing costs and wastage.
Effective Staff Utilisation
Shortage of nursing staff is a chronic problem in hospitals. Along with this is the added burden of unexpected emergencies. Hospitals always face a shortage of staff during emergencies and operations when they are most needed.
Providing RFID tags in wristbands or id cards to nursing staff helps the hospital to track their location within the hospital and call them in case of sudden emergency. The delegation of responsibility or reassignment of tasks is also easy when such staff tracking is enabled by IoT.
Staff also form an integral part of a hospital’s assets and IoT helps to manage these assets efficiently to provide the best patient service in hospitals.
Of all the assets of a hospital, a patient is the most important one. IoT helps to assimilate and track patient information constantly at hospitals to offer them optimum healthcare. Patients are provided with intelligent jackets or RFID wristbands which help to record their vital parameters like height, weight, blood group etc.
Sensors are used for real-time monitoring of crucial health parameters like blood glucose level, heartbeat, breathing rate etc. All the patient information is integrated and available at all times through electronic health records (EHR). This type of asset management helps physicians in quicker decision making and facilitates better service to patients.
Patient safety should be the prime concern of hospitals. This is accomplished by the effective use of IoT. Elderly patients with dementia can be prevented from wandering off by equipping them with RFID tagged wristbands. Pregnant ladies can avoid waiting in queues by equip themselves with sensors that monitor their health parameters and tags that helps to locate them when the testing laboratory is free. Infants can also be monitored in the same manner with the help of these IoT devices.
IoT also helps in total hygiene compliance at hospitals by monitoring which doctors and nurses are in contact with infected patients and enforcing sanitation measures on them. This ensures isolation of infection and avoids its propagation.
Asset management and tracking should be a top priority of hospitals to ensure their profitability and efficiency. Hospitals should start implementing IoT for asset management and tracking for healthcare by seeking the guidance of expert healthcare consultants.
FrontEnders Healthcare Services is a healthcare consulting firm providing realistic solutions to the healthcare challenges in India & overseas. Our goal is to make a positive change, wherever we are and whatever we are into. FrontEnders will assist you to set up functional healthcare organizational as well as operational goals, from a long-term viability perspective. Our mission is to be a principle enabler of quality, affordable, accessible and sustainable healthcare services, globally.