Hospital Asset Tracking
Discover Key Features, Use Cases for Healthcare, Costs, and Benefits
ScienceSoft brings in 11 years of experience in IoT development to guide you through all major aspects of a hospital asset tracking solution—from tech nuances to the business side.
Healthcare Asset Tracking Software: The Essence
Hospital asset tracking systems are widely used for medication, tools, and equipment monitoring. They 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.
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
Nowadays, there are many technologies that can be used for asset tracking: BLE trackers, barcodes, QR codes, etc. However, when it comes to hospitals, RFID has proven to be one of the most efficient options: it provides real-time asset location data, allows tracking everything from PPE to medical instruments and devices, and is rather cost-efficient ($1.1 for an embedded mini RFID tag designed to withstand harsh environments).
- RFID tags are attached to hospital assets or embedded into them and share asset location with RFID readers. They can be either active (have an embedded power source and actively send data) or passive (reflect the electromagnetic waves of a reader).
- RFID readers get the asset location information from RFID tags and send it on to the cloud server via the firewall. ScienceSoft recommends locating the readers in hospital corridors, rooms, etc.
- Firewall ensures secure transmission of collected hospital asset data between RFID readers and the cloud server.
- Streaming data processor transfers the input data about hospital assets to the data lake.
- Data lake stores large amounts of unstructured data on hospital assets.
- Big data warehouse stores structured data needed for the analysis of hospital asset use, movement, etc.
- Data analytics module helps determine hospital asset use and availability, identify asset use trends, and produces actionable insights to improve asset management.
- Business logic ensures smooth work of the asset tracking software: processes user requests for medical assets, displays assets’ locations to users, and alerts on high-priority events (e.g., unsolicited access to an inventory room).
- Staff application for nurses, doctors, technicians, etc. Enables them to access the hospital asset tracking system, request an asset, get information on its location, use, etc.
- Admin application allows viewing the list of tracked assets and information about them, adding new assets, editing asset data, granting access rights to the medical and administrative staff, etc.
If you plan to introduce medical staff and patients tracking as a part of your long-term IT strategy, I suggest designing asset tracking software with a flexible architecture. It will allow you to reuse the existing solution and save money on capital expenses (the same RFID readers can be used for asset and staff 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.
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 requests and real-time location tracking
In the asset tracking system, a medical specialist (e.g., a nurse, a doctor) can place a request for a necessary medical item. The IoT system shows the asset’s location in the hospital and records when the asset is being used.
Medical assets data storage
The tracking software stores medical asset data like description, expiration/maintenance date, names of the medical specialists who recently used it, use duration, etc. The asset information can be accessed or edited by the medical staff with appropriate role-based rights.
Analytics and reporting on asset utilization
The asset tracking information is analyzed to identify asset use patterns, predict demand for the asset, optimize its use, and more. The insights are presented on an admin dashboard (e.g., for hospital supply managers).
Inventory quality control and maintenance
The asset tracking system stores shelf life data on medications and disposable tools, detects assets with close expiration dates, and alerts the responsible personnel. Also, the system sends notifications when the regular maintenance of complex equipment (e.g., CT scanners) is needed.
Asset security monitoring
For medical staff, the access to the asset location is role-based. The system records the actions of users and identifies 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.
Should You Choose a Custom Hospital Asset Tracking Solution?
When healthcare orgs need to implement an IoT asset tracking solution quickly, OOTB software may seem to be a cost-effective option. However, in the long run, custom solutions prove to be more efficient. ScienceSoft’s healthcare IT consultants recommend to opt for a custom hospital asset tracking solution when you have the following needs:
A unique feature set covering all your operation
A tailor-made hospital asset tracking solution will accommodate all the peculiarities of your healthcare organization and will fit perfectly into your internal processes.
A solution that can evolve with your business
A custom solution offers flexibility: as time goes on and your needs change, you can add advanced functional modules (e.g., for prescription management, visitors tracking), enhance the solution’s security, and more.
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.
How Much Does It Cost to Implement Healthcare Asset Tracking?
From ScienceSoft’s experience, the development of a custom hospital asset tracking solution takes from 3-6 months and depends on the project scope and the solution’s functional complexity.
A smart hospital asset tracking solution may cost around $200,000 – $250,000+ (covering functional modules like location tracking, asset utilization analytics).
The exact software cost can be estimated based on the following factors:
Core cost factors
- The scope and complexity of hospital asset tracking functionality (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 associated with the equipment
- RFID tags (active and/or passive).
- RFID readers.
- Initial equipment installation.
- Cost of cloud services for hospital asset tracking software (e.g., for data analytics).
Benefits of Healthcare Asset Tracking
Saved money and improved ROA thanks to automated inventory management, reduced asset loss, timely equipment maintenance. Large health systems can save up to $500,000 per year thanks to medical asset tracking solutions.
Stock-out prevention due to real-time hospital asset inventory visibility and asset quality control.
Fast and accurate inventory audit and reduced asset search time. After implementing RFID medical equipment tracking, Cambridge University Hospitals managed to audit their assets 300 times faster and accounted for 90+% of their inventory (comparing to 65% before RFID use).
Improved staff satisfaction thanks to automation of the routine tasks not related to the patient care. The Mission Hospital (California, USA) noticed 50% increase in nurse satisfaction rate after launching an asset tracking system.
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.
Check out the 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.
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.
Check out the 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.
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.
During the project flow we were very pleased by the work of ScienceSoft’s business analysts and developers, who demonstrated high level of skills and competence. They made many significant contributions to our products both in terms of functionality and quality.
We would definitely recommend ScienceSoft as skilled and trustworthy consulting and development partner.
Marina Schommer, Chairman & CEO, Montex Swiss AG
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development vendor with 17 years of experience in healthcare IT. Being ISO 13485 certified, we design and deliver efficient hospital asset tracking software according to the requirements of the FDA and the Council of the European Union. Contact us to get more details about smart hospital asset tracking software development.