Mobile medical device tracking saves hospitals valuable money and time

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Philips and OLVG developed PerformanceFlow to efficiently manage mobile devices using track & trace technology

 

In every hospital you will easily come across hundreds of mobile medical assets, such as infusion pumps and ultrasound devices, as well as beds. Ideally, every department always knows how many devices exist and where they are, so staff does not have to search for them. Unfortunately, the practice looks different. 

 

Philips developed PerformanceFlow in collaboration with the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam: A solution for managing mobile medical devices based on track & trace technology which can also address broader user cases within a hospital beyond asset tracking.

 

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More transparent insights

 

Job Gutteling works as a clinical physicist at the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam. As the former head of medical technology, he embarked on this mission a few years ago: "We saw that we were procuring more and more equipment every year, while we already had quite a lot in house. As the person responsible for the maintenance and management of this equipment, I had the ambition to gain more centralized insights into this topic."

 

"When I was 18, I worked at the Albert Heijn. There we had a balance day twice a year, during which we counted the entire stock. I have sometimes jokingly said that an average supermarket knows much better what it has in stock than a hospital, while our stock is worth much more than that of a mid-sized Albert Heijn."

 

An inventory control for the purchase of volumetric pumps several years ago got him thinking: "We asked 26 departments how many pumps they needed. Each one made its own estimate and, of course, also built in a safety buffer, because you do not want to end up without equipment. The process showed that we would need additional 280, whereas we already had 220 pumps at that time. I felt that 280 was really too many, but can you proof the estimates were wrong? I made an agreement with the supplier that we  order 200 at first. If that is not enough, we could buy additional devices for the same amount. In retrospect, that was never necessary."

I initially looked mainly at the potential savings we could generate as a hospital. These are substantial but the real breakthrough actually came when I started looking at the time savings that such a track & trace system could bring to the medical staff."

Job Gutteling

Clinical Physicist

As easy as tracking an online delivery

 

The idea arose to use the Internet of Things technology to understand the stock level of devices that exist within a hospital and where they are exactly located. "When you order a product from a web shop, you often get a track and trace link where you can follow exactly where your package is. I thought: Why not apply a similar technology to our mobile devices as well?"

 

Job Gutteling set up a business case. "I initially looked mainly at the potential savings we could generate as a hospital. These are substantial but the real breakthrough actually came when I started looking at the time savings that such a track & trace system could bring to the medical staff. A nurse spends a lot of time looking for medical devices. That, of course, is incredibly frustrating and inefficient to search day in and day out for such a volumetric pump because you do not know where it is right now."

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Ideal partner

 

Thanks to an EU grant for the so called Big Medilytics project, which promotes big data initiatives in healthcare, Job Gutteling was able to get started on further developing his project. "I quickly figured out that I wanted to do this with a party that knows healthcare inside out and has the scalability to execute it. Philips was therefore the ideal partner to work with."

 

Mobile medical devices were equipped with a tracking tag. The localization data can be visualized on personalized dashboards - for the different user groups - at each workstation. Via the user interface, available equipment can not only be searched but also reserved immediately. In addition, the system can provide notifications about location changes of mobile devices to prevent theft, for example."

Results are promising

 

"The first results are really promising. Not only because it allows us to save costs on the purchase of mobile devices, but also because of the time savings you make because our colleagues no longer have to search for devices. [....] This is especially important because of the staff shortages we face as a hospital. If this solution can help ensure that employees can spend their frugal hours with patients instead of searching for equipment, that is priceless."

 

The project has generated a lot of interest both inside and outside the hospital: "Since the start, I have already received more than 20 requests, from different departments to apply the track and trace solution to different devices," confirms Job Gutteling. "In addition, we have already had more than ten other hospitals visit us who are also interested in applying this."

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Availability

 

Meanwhile, the solution has been made available to other hospitals by Philips under the name PerformanceFlow. PerformanceFlow falls under the Philips Healthcare Transformation Services business, a team dedicated to optimizing processes and practices in hospitals.

 

Although the results are encouraging, there are still many opportunities to use the full potential of this technology, Job Gutteling thinks: "We now have the basis, an intelligent Internet of Things system to which you can connect various devices. That is the biggest investment we have made. If you now add new devices, the additional costs are very low. Then you get a so-called network effect, where the marginal cost decreases as use increases. Thus, the system is becoming more scalable."

 

And does he see any other interesting areas of application? "You can imagine using this technology for wandering detection as well, for example to track patients with dementia. Or that you use it to map the movements of care workers and thus, optimize workflows. If this system can help optimize processes within the hospital, then we could fight staff shortages in that area as well."

Want to learn more?

 

Where is available equipment located in the hospital? Has preventive maintenance for medical equipment been performed? How often is a particular device used?

 

PerformanceFlow can answer all these questions. Curious about the range of possibilities?

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