The Current State of Hospital Asset Tracking: “Delegating Up” to CliniciansToday I was forwarded an email which had been sent out to all the hospital’s clinical staff. It had been written by a supply clerk. Here it is:
"BIOMED is constantly going through inventory of all equipment in the hospital. If equipment is missing they will put equipment as inactive and the equipment should not be used on any patients if this happens. Lately, there has been equipment going to BIOMED without notifying me. Please give me the courtesy to let me know if there is equipment in BIOMED so that I may follow it up. Once taken down to BIOMED please provide me the documentation that BIOMED provides when checking in equipment. Unfortunately, there is nothing much I can do to speed up their work but I hope that we can get our equipment in as soon as possible with me knowing about it."
That’s the status of asset tracking at this hospital – a really big one. A clerk is “delegating-up” the responsibility of reporting asset status to staff nurses and physicians, as if nurses and physicians aren’t already overworked. The clerk is just doing what he or she can to try and keep track of equipment. And, the problem is widespread as confirmed by our conversations with other hospitals:
"It's extremely important to be able to locate equipment. Hospitals are resource restricted. It does impact nurse productivity.”
“It's a huge issue; hugely impacting nurse productivity! In fact we just built a new hospital and part of our premise is to use an RFID process to make it easier on the nurses.”
"It is ABSOLUTELY affecting nurse job satisfaction and productivity! It's so frustrating for clinicians and our physicians! One of our physicians wants a guaranteed location for wheelchairs for the unit cause he's seen more than once where a patient is ready to go home and a staff member is busy trying to locate a wheelchair to take them to the front! "
“Yes, hunting for equipment has really negatively impacted nurse productivity and nurse job satisfaction!”
The electronic age has provided us near instant communication. At this facility a clerk is able to task over a thousand clinical staff to do administrative work - to track assets in the hospital - in addition to their already overwhelming clinical responsibilities. Is it no wonder why so many clinicians become discouraged and retire early?
Is this a problem at your hospital too? How do you address it? I’d love to hear your comments or similar stories.
~ Dr. Harold Koenig