How RFID Location Tracking Can Help Prevent Equipment Loss
By The Altus Team
Published Sep 28, 2022
| Updated Nov 16, 2022
| 5 min read
Every piece of equipment within a hospital has a purpose, and every piece costs money to obtain and manage. Due to the fast-paced nature of the healthcare industry, having equipment that lasts as long as possible so clinicians can offer the highest level of care is top of the list for hospitals. Taking every step and adding measures to maintain your hospital’s equipment for as long as possible is important, and can be easily implemented with the help of RFID location tracking.
Read on to learn how RFID location tracking can help prevent equipment loss and promote better performance and outcomes in your hospital.
How Does RFID Location Tracking Work?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an asset tracking technology that uses radio frequencies. RFID location tracking transmits data, tracks equipment, and communicates information to healthcare workers and IT departments. Radio signals ping across two or more devices, like a location tag and a reader, to determine the location of the tagged object or individual.
RFID tag locators allow hospitals to track assets using custom data written onto the tag. The highly customizable, flexible system is ideal for the fast-paced environment of a healthcare facility. With signals sent regularly, a hospital’s IT team can track tagged equipment anywhere a signal reader is installed. Location tracking empowers hospitals to know where their equipment is at all times, making it crucial in preventing equipment loss.
The Impact of Equipment Loss on Healthcare Facilities
Some studies show that between 10% and 20% of a typical hospital’s mobile assets are lost or stolen during their lifecycle. And roughly 75% of the allotted equipment maintenance time is spent looking for the item. These numbers indicate the significant loss incurred when equipment is misplaced or stolen.
Lost, missing, or stolen equipment can have detrimental effects on the healthcare system. Replacing lost equipment is not a simple fix. When equipment goes missing, workflows are interrupted and care comes to a halt until staff can find a workaround or the equipment is located.
The effects ripple outward and can affect many aspects of a hospital’s operations. Some of those effects include:
1. Burdened Staff
Healthcare staff are under immense pressure. One study found that roughly one-third of nurses will quit their jobs in 2022, citing burnout and stress as the highest contributing factors.
In addition to the everyday stresses of working in healthcare, equipment loss adds to the long list of reasons nurses are leaving the profession in droves. Nurses and clinicians require adequate equipment to perform their job duties, including EMR charting. When equipment is lost, misplaced, or even stolen, hospital workers find themselves loaded down with even more stressors and obstacles that prevent them from providing patient care.
2. Distressed Patients
Patient care is a top priority for any healthcare system. But when equipment goes missing, providers and staff can’t deliver the level of care their patients expect and need. The added stress and time to perform their duties leads to a chance staff may miss an important piece of information.
One survey found that nurses spend roughly 1 hour per shift searching for equipment. The added time it takes to find a new piece of equipment or workflow workaround leads to delayed care, slow response times, and lower patient satisfaction.
When clinicians can instantly access equipment, wait times go down, and patient experience increases.
3. Hospitals Lose Resources
The final victim of hospital equipment loss is the hospital itself. Every resource is precious and replacing any piece of equipment requires time, and financial and team investment. With the right tracking tools, you can reduce equipment loss, directing resources where they’re needed most.
How RFID Location Tracking Helps Prevent Equipment Loss
As seen above, the effects of missing equipment are far-reaching and touch every aspect of a hospital’s performance. Implementing RFID location tracking can significantly reduce time and resources lost when searching for equipment.
1. Theft Prevention
Hospital equipment theft costs healthcare systems millions of dollars each year. This loss is easily reduced, perhaps even preventable, when hospitals implement RFID asset tracking.
The tagged equipment can be located instantly. If a piece of equipment is thought to be misplaced, your IT team can track it with RFID. Using the RFID tag, IT teams monitor where equipment travels in real-time. The location tracking allows IT to check and see if the cart has left the building, or what room it is in before deciding if the equipment is officially lost.
2. Instant Location Technology
In RFID location tracking, the chip sends signals to a reader every few seconds. This 24/7 tracking ensures that the tagged equipment can be found in an instant.
The signal targets the reader on a regular schedule ensuring hospitals always have the most current location information.
3. Inventory Management
Hospitals house millions of dollars worth of equipment, medical devices, and other valuable assets. RFID location tracking is a cost-effective way for hospitals to manage inventories quickly and accurately.
RFID tags are unique among location trackers because of their discreet nature. They come in various sizes, the smallest being roughly the size of a grain of rice. The wide variety of sizes allows you to tag and track equipment and devices of all sizes.
In addition to location tracking, RFID allows hospitals to maintain their inventories more effectively. Data like equipment age, maintenance schedules, or equipment issues can be added to RFID tags, increasing device lifespans and reducing the need for inventory replacement.
Finding the Best RFID Location Tracking for Your Hospital
RFID location tracking can save resources, prevent theft, increase equipment lifespan and usage, and ultimately deliver better outcomes for staff and patients.
Understanding your needs empowers you to choose an RFID provider that delivers the tools and technology required. Reach out to our team at Altus and learn about our hospital-centric RTLS asset tracking tools and how they can help prevent equipment loss.