Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY) was selected as a finalist for ECRI Institute's 5th Health Devices Achievement Award for the integration of its asset tracking and infusion pump systems to yield additional efficiencies.
The Health Devices Achievement Award recognizes outstanding initiatives undertaken by member healthcare institutions to improve patient safety, reduce costs, or otherwise facilitate better strategic management of health technology. ECRI Institute
announced the winner and four other finalists for the 5th award in October 2010.
Learn about the other submissions that achieved recognition.
As we discussed in
September 2010, real-time locating systems (RTLSs) have reached the point where the promises of improved efficiency and reduced cost through inventory control and utilization monitoring are finally within reach. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center was an early RTLS adopter, implementing an institution-wide asset tracking system with the goals of reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving patient care and safety. One noteworthy aspect of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering installation is that the facility has looked for ways to integrate the location information from its RTLS with information from other systems—for example, the server for the facility's smart infusion pumps. Memorial Sloan-Kettering finds that this approach has been much more effective than using location information in isolation.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering's RTLS uses tags that are affixed to devices; these tags allow the location of devices to be identified either within a broad area (e.g., a waiting area) or within, or near, a specific room. The ability to locate equipment more quickly has yielded a number of expected benefits—for instance:
- The RTLS reduces the amount of time clinicians spend searching for devices.
- The system helps the biomedical engineering department find devices that are due for inspection and preventive maintenance or that are the subject of a recall; this has important safety benefits, as recalled devices can be found and promptly removed from service if necessary.
- Use of the RTLS has led to significant savings by streamlining the equipment-inventory aspects of the research laboratory auditing reviews required by grant-regulating agencies.
Significantly, additional benefits have been realized by sharing data between the RTLS and the facility's smart pump server. With the RTLS and smart pump systems integrated in this manner, the RTLS can direct clinicians to the nearest available (i.e., not in use) infusion pump, rather than just the nearest pump. In addition, the integration of the RTLS data with utilization data from the pump server has helped form a more complete picture of usage rates for the pumps that have been distributed to different care units. This information has allowed the materials management department to redistribute pumps more efficiently, and it helps the department plan ahead for future purchases.
Another significant benefit of the RTLS-smart pump integration is that it has helped the facility ensure that all pumps have the most recent version of the drug library. Many smart pump systems, including the pumps at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, allow the facility to push a new drug library out to the pumps over the hospital's wireless network. This allows a hospital to update its drug library much more easily and frequently than is possible with pumps that lack wireless capability. But there are still some situations that can delay receipt of the update by a given pump. The most common is that to receive the update, the device must be powered on and the update must be acknowledged by the clinician; consequently, for pumps that are in use, clinicians may put off the library update longer than reasonable safety concerns would dictate. By integrating the RTLS with the pump wireless server, the facility can quickly locate pumps that are still using an earlier version of the library and address whatever is preventing the update, ensuring that all patients have the protection of the most up-to-date drug limits.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering is also working to integrate the RTLS with its alarm management system. Once this process is completed, device alarms will be transmitted to both systems, allowing the central station to indicate the exact location of the alarming device.
Best Practices for Other Facilities
Not every hospital is ready for, or even interested in, a location system. But for those facilities that do decide to take the plunge and implement an RTLS, Memorial Sloan-Kettering's installation demonstrates some of the benefits that can be realized when an RTLS is integrated with other systems.