When Coregas commissioned the design of world-first technology to track its gas cylinders, little did it realise there were spinoff benefits that could help revolutionise how hospitals keep tabs on their equipment.
A trial of the tracking device at Ballarat Base Hospital in regional Victoria has revealed the potential of the device in saving valuable hours searching for equipment. Hours which could be better spent by nursing and hospital staff on patient care.
Initially designed to track oxygen and medical grade gas cylinders, Coregas invited Ballarat Health Services, which operates the hospital, to trial about 20 of the devices on its medical equipment and monitor the outcomes.
The tracking device, about the size of a 50 cent coin, runs on re-chargeable batteries and sends a signal when it moves. This can easily be traced through the hospital’s nearest wi-fi port. A computer program, featuring a schematic map of the hospital, makes it possible to pinpoint the equipment’s whereabouts to within about three metres.
With the trial scheduled to finish at the end of June the results have been pleasing. The trial has helped health services personnel realise the potential of these types of tracking devices in the hospital.
Ron Hiller, Manager of Supply Services at Ballarat Health Services, believes these types of tracking systems have the potential to save thousands of hours in lost time searching for equipment.
“Often it’s the nurses who leave the ward to look for equipment. But with technology like this which was used in the trial, they can better spend that time on patient care,” he says.
Peter McLennan, Clinical Products Advisor, is also appreciative of the benefits of using a tracking device at the hospital.
He cites airvo machines, which provide an oxygen mix to patients, as being a good example of where trackers like those used in the trial could prove beneficial.
Airvos require six monthly maintenance checks. Because they are situated at many locations throughout the hospital, it can take biomedical engineering staff days to find each machine.
“Tagging each airvo with a wi-fi tracking device, would make it easy to monitor which needed testing and when,” he explains.
Another example of where the devices could potentially be useful is with equipment such as bariatric beds. The hospital owns a limited number of these expensive beds, which are specifically designed for overweight patients.
“When not in use, the beds can be difficult to find because they are located in various storage areas throughout the hospital. An attached tracker allows them to be located immediately,” Ron Hiller explains.
Coregas is also pleased at the successful outcome of the trial. “We know that a hospital’s oxygen cylinders, carts, monitors and other lifesaving pieces of equipment have to be in the right place at the right time,” says Coregas Marketing Manager, Juan Lorenzo.
“In trying to solve our own cylinder logistics challenge using business intelligence and the Internet Of Things we realised that we were also solving many of our customers’ challenges too.
“By working with Ballarat Health Services for this trial, we have been able to investigate the potential of this digital change. It’s shown, there is potential in cost reductions through better stock management as well as reducing the amount of capital spent on excess equipment,” he says.
“But the most exciting outcome of the tracking device is the opportunity to impact patient outcomes positively. We love that hospitals may be able to use this technology.
Especially if it means clinicians and nurses spend less time looking for key pieces of equipment and can then spend more time looking after patients,” Juan explains.