With medical campuses often sprawling over multiple floors or even multiple buildings, locating medical devices can be extremely difficult without proper asset management systems in place.
Critical healthcare tools are only effective when available at a moment’s notice. For many industries, the misplacement of limited resources can lead to snowballing inefficiencies. In a healthcare facility, the consequences of not being able to pinpoint the right equipment at the right time can be far more severe. With medical campuses often sprawling over multiple floors or even multiple buildings, locating medical devices can be extremely difficult without proper asset management systems in place.
Healthcare Asset Tracking’s 4 Central Challenges (And Their Solutions)
The four main challenges to adoption and success of healthcare asset management systems typically are 1.) lack of reliable indoor coverage, and thus, limited location services, 2.) insufficient tracker battery life, 3.) cost of the tracking devices and services, 4.) and finally, highly complex business models.
As with any scalable asset tracking solution, the system must be simple, effortless to install, and easy to maintain. Fortunately, a growing ecosystem of IoT devices is being designed and manufactured today, seamlessly paired with user-friendly mapping interfaces to provide for the diverse, unique needs posed by a range of critical healthcare assets.
1. Indoor and Outdoor Location Coverage
First: let’s discuss coverage and location. There are many technologies ready now that did not even exist until recently. Subsequently, there had also been a lack of available hardware that could leverage them.
One of these brand new technologies simplifying asset tracking is Polte – a cutting-edge mobile IoT location solution that uses cellular signals and cloud computing to find assets indoors and outdoors. Polte simultaneously overcomes the coverage gaps resulting from GPS’ inability to accurately position inside buildings, and Wi-Fi’s or Bluetooth Low Energy’s (BLE’s) inability to locate outdoors. Polte also uses much less power for each locate, which significantly extends the life of the battery. This, combined with the power-saving features that come with new 5G networks, including both CAT-M1 and NB-IoT, produces a device that lasts many years on a single charge and is sufficient for the wide gamut of use cases. For edge use cases, BLE can travel more than 500 meters as an added connectivity feature, ensuring that harder-to-reach assets really can be located anywhere.
2. Extended Battery Life
The new cellular protocols (CAT-M1 and NB-IoT) are just the beginning of the evolution. Disruptive new engineering architectures are squeezing every ounce of power savings from new devices. Many of these design features, combined with the enhancements mentioned above, can result in 10+ years of life on a single charge, allowing medical professionals to focus more on daily operations than switching out batteries.
3. Less Cost, More Accessibility
Third, costs have fallen dramatically, making upfront hardware price tags no longer a barrier to entry. With a product life of many years and a more streamlined deployment diluting equipment costs, monthly costs are now measured in pennies rather than dollars.
Additionally, monthly recurring charges are also much lower, which allows these solutions to scale rapidly. Thus, tracking smaller, individual pieces of equipment makes more business sense than ever before.
4. A User-Friendly Business Model
Fourth, with new technology options and reduced costs come a more palatable business model that is also easier to justify. In the past, insurance companies were reluctant to pay for these types of solutions. The medical facility was hesitant to invest as well because implementations were oft expensive and not routinely reimbursed. When the ROI is as strong as these new solutions deliver, the choice becomes much more simple. Better and more accurate data allows medical organizations to manage more with less inventory, all the while providing a superior level of care for their patients.
Healthcare facilities can’t wait. The time is now to take advantage of evolved IoT asset tracking solutions to maximize ROI on capital expenses, while ensuring patients in their care have the best experience possible.
— Christina Gaines, Director of Marketing at Polte