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Asset Tracking

Drive savings with mobile

asset management

How New York State’s Ellis Medicine saved $700,000. By Paul Segovis

H The goal

Ellis Medicine has operated in the Schenectady, N.Y., community since 1888, first as Ellis Hospital, which served the vibrant, 19th-century manufacturing community on the Erie Canal. Within the last five years, Ellis merged with two other local hospitals in the area and is now Ellis Medicine, a healthcare organization comprising three campuses, as well as various outpatient locations.

Paul Segovis is director of materials management at Ellis Medicine in Schenectady, N.Y.

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Two years ago, our chief operating offi- cer encouraged staff to consider RFID tech- nology for asset track- ing, with the goal of

increasing staff efficiency by spending less time searching for mobile equipment. To kick off our clinical asset-management work, we first addressed IV pumps. Ellis had about 500 pumps, but that never seemed to be enough. Nurses were constantly looking for the pumps and making calls to locate them. Moreover, Ellis was in the process of considering an upgrade from analog IV pumps to newer, “smart” pumps. In addition to being ex-

10 November 2012

ealthcare managers and directors, especially in materials management and other departments with similar responsibilities, are often faced with the challenge of balancing an organiza- tion’s need for medical equipment with established budgets. What many organizations may not realize is that they might have more equipment than they actually need – and could be spending unnecessarily. At Ellis Medicine, a hospital system in upstate New York, we were able to find $700,000 in savings through asset management, combining workflow and process change with real-time tracking technology.

pensive, these newer-generation pumps also required wireless capabilities. Before we purchased new equipment, we wanted to be sure we understood what we had on hand, how our staff was using the pumps and what we really needed to purchase.

IV pumps: a case study

Before any organization can make changes to equipment inventories or workflow processes, it needs to understand what the real situation is and what the real needs are – oth- erwise, perceptions could be off, resulting in avoidable waste. In 2009 we partnered with GE Healthcare, which is known for its expertise in boosting productivity and efficiency, for a mini-LEAN/Six Sigma exercise to find out what the real issues were with our IV pumps, and why there never seemed to be enough units.

Purchasing infrastructure isn’t enough – you can’t just buy technology and expect results to follow.

The LEAN/Six Sigma exercise revealed that workflow and pump management were the underlying reason for the staff perception that there were not enough IV pumps. Working with GE, Ellis discussed the organization’s desired future state of operations and developed a procedure for managing IV pumps on nursing floors, the OR and the ED. We implemented the AgileTrac real-time location system from GE, which allows us to tag each piece of equipment and track it on computers – in real-time – anywhere within the facility. This means that staff is able to know exactly where any given IV pump is at any given time. If a nurse needs a pump, all she or he has to do is log into a local computer and find out where the equipment is.


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