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Hospital Asset Tracking: Architecture, Key Features, Use Cases for Healthcare

Hospital Asset Tracking with RFID - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft brings in 11 years of experience in IoT development to design and implement reliable IoT software for hospital asset tracking.

Smart Hospital Asset Tracking: The Essence

Often used for medication, tools and equipment monitoring, RFID-based hospital asset tracking systems can substantially decrease the loss of hospital assets, cut asset search time, provide real-time data on the assets’ use, help monitor medications storage conditions and plan equipment maintenance.

Hospital Asset Tracking Market Overview

The hospital asset tracking market is expected to reach $15 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 13.2%. Hospital asset tracking adoption is on the rise as healthcare organizations strive to decrease asset search time, automate asset management workflows, and optimize an asset procurement strategy.

How Medical Asset Tracking Works

Architecture

Architecture of a medical asset tracking solution - ScienceSoft

  • RFID tags – attached to hospital assets or embedded into them, tags share asset location with RFID readers. They can be either active (have an embedded power source and actively send data) or passive (reflect electromagnetic waves of a reader).
  • RFID readers – to identify the location of hospital assets with RFID tags; send the information on asset location to the cloud server via the cloud gateway. The readers can be located in hospital corridors, rooms, etc.
  • Firewall – to ensure secure transmission of collected hospital asset data between RFID readers and the cloud server.
  • Streaming data processor – to transfer the input data about hospital assets to the data lake.
  • Data lake – to store large amounts of unstructured data on hospital assets.
  • Big data warehouse – to store structured data needed for the analysis of hospital asset use, movement, etc.
  • Data analytics – to analyze hospital asset use and availability, identify asset use trends, and produce actionable insights to improve asset management.
  • Business logic of hospital asset tracking software – to process user requests for medical assets, display an asset’s location to users, etc., and high-priority events (e.g., unsolicited access to an inventory room).
  • Staff application – to enable nurses, doctors, technicians, etc., to access the hospital asset tracking system, request an asset, get information on its location, use, and more.
  • Admin application – to view the list of tracked assets and information about them, add new assets, edit asset data, grant access to the asset tracking system for the medical and administrative staff, etc.

Best practice: ScienceSoft designs a flexible architecture of asset tracking software to make it easier to introduce tracking of medical staff or patients if the need arises and suggests equipment (e.g., RFID readers) suitable for tracking both assets and people.

Medical tools tracking

The hospital asset tracking system helps locate disposable supplies (e.g., boxes of gloves, packs of syringes) and reusable medical tools (e.g., scalpel, scissors, retractors) and track vital information on their use (e.g., expiration dates, data on sterilization). The system analyzes the asset use and provides practical insights helping improve inventory management accuracy and efficiency.

Medication inventory tracking

The hospital staff can get information on the location, quantity, and expiration dates of medication to ensure medication distribution control, reduced search times, and minimized medication shortage risks. In the asset tracking solution, medical personnel can also access medicine use instructions to avoid medical errors.

Medical devices and equipment tracking

The hospital asset tracking system helps control the use and availability of diagnostic medical devices or life-support equipment (e.g., artificial lungs ventilation machines, kidney dialysis machines) and track information on asset location, length of use, maintenance schedule, etc. The medical staff can access a device or equipment only if authorized and check the description of its intended use in the asset tracking solution.

Asset requesting and location tracking in real time

A medical specialist (e.g., a nurse, a doctor) makes a request for a necessary medical item. The IoT system shows the asset’s location in the hospital. When the medical specialist leaves the room with the asset equipped with an RFID tag, the RFID reader records it in the tracking solution.

Medical assets data storage

RFID hospital asset tracking software stores such medical asset data as:

  • Medical asset description.
  • Expiration or upcoming maintenance date.
  • Recent use by medical specialists.
  • Duration of asset use.

All asset information is available to the medical staff in the application, and responsible specialists may edit key asset descriptions.

Asset use analytics and reporting

The information collected by IoT asset tracking devices is processed in a data analytics module to identify asset use patterns, predict demand for the asset, optimize its use, and more. The analyzed data is presented on an admin dashboard (e.g., for hospital supply managers).

Inventory control and maintenance

The asset tracking system controls expiration dates of medications and disposable tools and alerts the responsible personnel on the regular maintenance of complex equipment (e.g., CT scanners).

Asset security monitoring

The hospital asset tracking system ensures role-based access to the asset location for medical specialists (nurses, doctors, etc.). The system records the actions of users to identify suspicious asset requests that can threaten their security and alerts the responsible managers (e.g., hospital supply managers, heads of hospital units) on the use of assets without proper requests.

Success Stories of Smart Hospital Asset Tracking

Greenville Hospital System, South Carolina

implemented RFID tracking system to prevent loss of surgical probes (cost from $17,000 to $35,000 per probe). The RFID tags are embedded into the surgical tools and can withstand 1,000 repeated autoclave sterilization cycles. After the system launch, no probes were lost.

Mersin Integrated Healthcare Campus, Turkey

equipped over 200,000 medical assets with highly durable RFID tags and installed passive RFID readers between campus zones to track asset locations. With a dedicated IoT tracking system, they improved asset inventory visibility and decreased the asset search time.

Want to Develop Healthcare Asset Tracking Software?

ScienceSoft’s healthcare experts are ready to design and build smart asset tracking solutions for hospital settings to enable automated locating and usage monitoring of medical devices, complex equipment, and medications, minimize asset loss and theft, and prevent expired waste.

Technology Stack

Cloud services

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Real-time data streaming

RabbitMQ
Kafka Streams
Apache Storm
Apache Flink
Spark Streaming
Amazon Kinesis Data Streams
Azure Event Hubs

Data lakes

Hadoop Distributed File System
Azure Data Lake

Databases / data storages

SQL

Microsoft SQL Server
MySQL
Oracle
PostgreSQL

NoSQL

Apache NiFi
MongoDB

Cloud databases / data storages

AWS

Amazon Relational Database Service
Amazon S3
Amazon DocumentDB
Amazon ElastiCache

Azure

Azure SQL Database
Azure Blob Storage

Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud SQL
Google Cloud Datastore

IoT data analytics

AWS

AWS IoT Analytics

Azure

Azure Stream Analytics

Others

Apache Cassandra
Apache HBase
Hadoop
Apache Spark

Back end programming languages

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Front end programming languages

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Languages

HTML5
CSS

JavaScript frameworks

MeteorJS
Vue.js
Next.js
Ember.js

Mobile

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Hardware

RFID tags (Honeywell, Siemens, etc.)

RFID antennas

RFID readers

Challenge #1

RFID tags used on hospital assets (e.g., scissors, clamps, scalpels, retractors) may get damaged due to regular sterilization or may impede a tool’s functionality.

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Solution

In hospital asset tracking projects, ScienceSoft uses in-built RFID tags for surgery tools instead of the ones attached to their surface. If there’s no possibility to embed tags, we ensure that the attached RFID tags are heat-resistant to remain functional after sterilization.

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Challenge #2

Active RFID tags and RFID readers may influence the performance of medical equipment (e.g., defibrillators, pacemakers, dialysis machines) due to the emission of radio waves.

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Solution

ScienceSoft’s IoT experts place RFID readers and medical equipment to avoid their influence on each other. For the assets used in the locations with sensitive equipment (e.g., surgery rooms), we opt for passive RFID tags because they only reflect the energy from readers and can hardly influence medical processes.

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Core cost factors

  • The scope and complexity of hospital asset tracking functions (advanced features like asset utilization analytics will increase the software cost).
  • The use of ready-made components to build a hospital asset tracking system (e.g., AWS IoT services) or fully custom development.

Cost factors assosiated with the equipment

  • RFID tags (active and/or passive).
  • RFID readers.
  • Initial equipment installation.

Operational costs

  • Cost of cloud services for hospital asset tracking software (e.g., for data analytics).

Hospital Asset Tracking Consulting and Development Services by ScienceSoft

Since 2011, ScienceSoft has been accumulating IoT software development expertise and can help you create competitive hospital asset tracking software according to ISO 13485.

Hospital asset tracking consulting

What we do:

  • Analyze your needs for asset tracking software and coin the requirements.
  • Suggest and outline the essential and advanced software functionality.
  • Design tailored architecture of hospital asset tracking software.
  • Estimate the cost, ROI, and software delivery timelines.
  • Assist in choosing hardware for the asset tracking system (RFID tags, readers, etc.).
  • Provide expert guidance on software compliance with relevant regulations (e.g., HIPAA).
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Development of hospital asset tracking software

We offer:

  • Hospital asset tracking software conceptualization based on high-level or detailed requirements.
  • Software feature list elaboration.
  • Design of the hospital asset tracking software architecture with a focus on scalability.
  • Development and testing of hospital asset tracking software.
  • Hospital asset tracking software compliance with required regulations (HIPAA, HITECH, etc.).
  • Support and evolution of hospital asset tracking software (if needed).
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About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is an international IT consulting and software development vendor with 17 years of experience in healthcare IT. Being ISO 13485 certified to design and deliver medical software according to the requirements of the FDA and the Council of the European Union, ScienceSoft offers hospital asset tracking software consultancy and development services.