Three Hospital Time-waste Villains  (And How to Vanquish Them)

Wasted time in a hospital is a villain lurking in the shadows – it’s sneaky, it’s threatening, and you need superpowers to take it down. Time is something hospitals can’t afford to lose. Studies show that clinical inefficiency costs U.S. hospitals $202 billion annually. What’s a hospital to do? How can you win the battle against lost time?

Three hospital inefficiencies you need to conquer

Because there are so many moving parts that impact hospital efficiency, it can be useful (and less overwhelming) to break things down into manageable, actionable objectives.

So today, let’s look at three top culprits in the battle against wasted time: hospital asset management, personnel dispatching, and visitor wayfinding – and find out how we can stop these inefficiencies in their tracks.

Time-waster #1: Missing hospital assets

Missing equipment. How much time does your team spend looking for equipment? A Nursing Times survey found that more than one-third of nurses spent over an hour per shift trying to track down IV pumps, patient monitors, telemetry packs, and other items. That adds up to more than 40 hours per month of wasted clinical and support staff time and delayed patient care. Read more about the ripple effect of missing equipment here.

Lost specimens. Each day, large hospital laboratories process tens of thousands of samples. Transporting these specimens to and from the laboratory is a manual process that’s prone to human error. A study by the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) laboratory revealed 25 to 30 missing specimens per month. Lost specimens lead to increased costs for the healthcare system and delays in patient treatment, with potentially severe clinical and medicolegal consequences.

Hospital asset tracking

Digital asset tracking systems are a great way for hospitals to save time managing equipment and specimens. A 2018 HIMSS case study from a 342-bed, 500k+ ft2 Michigan hospital described how a digital asset tracking system enabled nurses to more easily find available IV pumps. With this data, they saw a 40% decrease in capital expenditure for pumps, yielding a net savings of $1 million. For more information about the importance of hospital asset tracking, check out this blog post.

How digital asset tracking helps

  • Ensures the right supplies, medication, and specimens arrive at the right location at the right time
  • Improves accountability and loss prevention
  • Reduces hoarding and hiding of equipment
  • Facilitates inspection and maintenance of equipment
  • Closes the chain-of-custody loop
  • Allows for sharing and management of large fleets of phones and devices
  • Streamlines workflow and increases capacity
  • Decreases expenses related to hospital time-waste

What to look for in a digital asset tracking solution

The best digital hospital asset tracking solutions are easily scalable and use proven real-time location technologies like Apple Indoor Mapping Data Format (IMDF) and Indoor Positioning (IPS) that are a fraction of the cost of older, first-generation systems based on radiofrequency ID and infrared (RFID/IR).

Additionally, look for a full-service tracking system that displays a visual map of real-time locations of all tracked items via a digital twin of your facility or facilities. The system should record arrivals, departures, and dwell time, and it should alert you when tracked items are taken off hospital premises.

Time-waster #2: Dispatching without location information

Hospital dispatchers are often caught in the dilemma of knowing what needs to be accomplished but not which team member is closest to help. Large facilities manage hundreds of thousands of assisted patient moves via wheelchair or gurney each year. When a patient needs to be transported, it’s highly inefficient for a dispatcher to pull a mobile team member from a distant location when another team member is available nearby.

Dispatching without exact team location information also prevents medical staff from getting quick help during a crisis; it causes longer wait times for patients; and it increases fatigue and frustration for mobile teams who must unnecessarily traverse a sprawling floor plan.

How to conquer this time villain

Hospital personnel location tracking

Digital personnel tracking systems let hospital dispatchers know where their team members are in real-time. This allows them to seamlessly route and coordinate the team efficiently. And, importantly, services or security can be rapidly dispatched to the exact floor and location of a staff member in duress.

How digital personnel location tracking helps

  • Security in knowing exactly where transporter, environmental services, and supporting team members are
  • Distributes hospital dispatching work orders based on proximity
  • Improves response time and accountability
  • Reduces overall call volume
  • Eliminates the need for pagers, and reduces the need for house phones and other proprietary communication devices (e.g., ASCOM, Zebra)
  • Increases productivity and optimizes staffing
  • Reduces wait time – improving staff safety and patient experience

What to look for in a personnel location tracking solution

Personnel location tracking platforms should be built around GIS reference grade maps that are accurate to the centimeter and georeferenced to the real world with latitude and longitude coordinates, so they can be seen and interacted with on any standard mapping platform (e.g., Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.).

The location platform should provide dispatchers an easy way to find team members, view roles and responsibilities, and communicate in real-time via smartphones. It’s also helpful if the platform is interoperable with your hospital’s existing location tracking systems, whether they are based on radiofrequency (RFID), Bluetooth (BLE), infrared (IR), or other sensing technologies.

Time-waster #3: Patients getting lost in your facility

Navigating a large, complex hospital campus can be overwhelming for patients and visitors (and staff too!). According to research from Deloitte Digital, more than 85% of patients ask for directions when they go to a hospital, and 30% of first-time visitors get lost. Lost or late patients not only have a bad experience, they also cause inefficient workflow, take up staff time by asking for directions, and delay care for others.

Patient satisfaction impacts a hospital system’s bottom line – affecting everything from HCAHPS scores, reviews, and ratings to reimbursement rates. An Emory University analysis found that the costs associated with inefficient wayfinding exceeded $200,000annually. Helping patients and their visitors successfully find their way through your facility matters.

How to conquer this time villain

Hospital wayfinding

Great hospital wayfinding is quite literally the first step to improving patient satisfaction. Digital wayfinding tools empower your patients to navigate their own way across your healthcare campus, intuitively, via step-by-step routing on their personal smartphones. And since nearly everyone is already familiar with digital wayfinding for driving and walking outdoors, using a similar system for indoor navigation just makes sense.

How digital wayfinding helps

  • Ensures patients, visitors, and staff get where they need to go, when they need to be there
  • Decreases late arrivals to appointments
  • Keeps daily schedule and workflow on track
  • Increases prompt care
  • Enhances patient and staff comfort and satisfaction
  • Reduces the amount of time staff spends giving directions
  • Saves costs associated with inefficient wayfinding

What to look for in a digital wayfinding solution

Digital wayfinding solutions need features and functionality that make it easy – and even enjoyable – to navigate your hospital. Think about things like turn-by-turn directions, searchable locations, route sharing, accessibility (e.g., no stairs or long ramps), construction and badged door notices, and language preferences.

Users prefer systems that are easily accessed on their personal smartphones or tablets, with no apps to download. Extra points for systems that can seamlessly integrate with your physical signage and your brand to provide a consistent experience for patrons.

NavvTrack® Care Traffic Control solutions help hospitals maximize efficiency

What if your superpower was the ability to save time, resources, and costs for your hospital? NavvTrack can help you build these superhero skills.

Our Care Traffic Control solutions are helping hospitals across the country find, track, and manage healthcare personnel, assets, and processes to maximize efficiency, increase patient satisfaction, and improve their bottom line.

With the right tools, you can vanquish your hospital’s time-waste villains and save the day.