20 March 2017
The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) started in 2015 with the implementation of CureTrack, a smart automation concept from CureTrack from Heerenveen, specialized in logistics processes in healthcare provision. The RTLS system (Real Time Location System) provides real-time usage data to efficiently and patient-oriented manage logistical flows of medical devices. Main profit: more economical inventory management, reduction of search times, reduction of operational costs and assurance of cleaning and maintenance procedures. After the implementation for all newly purchased beds, the UMCG recently started the follow-up implementation of the infusion pumps. With this, the UMCG optimizes the efficiency, safety and hygiene around the use of mobile medical devices.
CureTrack: fast ROI thanks to accessible real-time data technology
“Every bed that leaves a room or department must be cleaned and inspected in accordance with the procedures.” That was the criterion on which the UMCG chose CureTrack in 2015. With technical characteristics:
Easily realized mesh network with coverage across the entire department instead of relatively interference-sensitive Wi-Fi applications with many network points and poor coverage
Some local gateways (department level), connected to central server
RTLS nodes (Real Time Location System), equipped with batteries with an extremely long lifespan
No interference with other hospital equipment
Design tailored to high hygiene requirements (WIP, waterproof, no sharp corners, easy to maintain)
Security at an extremely high level since the system is running in the hospital network
Dashboard (app) accessible via smartphone and / or scanner
Compatible with existing facility management platforms such as Ultimo and Planon
"For us, an important advantage was that CureTrack, thanks to the modest infrastructure costs and the long lifespan of the batteries, can be implemented on a small scale, so that the return on investment times are short.“
The UMCG practice
At the UMCG we monitor the location, status of the annual inspection, any malfunctions and all cleaning routines for each unique bed. In conjunction with the dashboard, on which everyone involved in the logistics process can log in, this results in a fully automated management, maintenance and quality system. The still common chance that beds cannot be located and therefore fall outside the mandatory maintenance cycle is a thing of the past. The management of the process lies on the work floor, close to the patient, for whom the quality of care increases, while the burden on staff and facility management decreases.
As practice shows, CureTrack is disarmingly simple. The efficiency gain starts as soon as a user wants to start planning an action at a bed. For the bed in question, this immediately generates an analysis based on parameters such as location, use, date of next inspection, report of malfunction and date of periodic cleaning. At the same time, the dashboard provides real-time information about the total number of beds present in the facility space and the agreed bed capacity per specific department.
The user immediately receives a message back and knows exactly what to do with the bed. This prevents unnecessary actions such as making up with new bed linen if the bed still has to leave the department for an inspection. If the data shows that the moment for periodic cleaning is close, it can be performed and registered at the same time. Objective real-time data controls the logistical movements that therefore only take place on the basis of demonstrable need or necessity. Each department always has enough beds that are maintained and cleaned according to the protocol. Agreements with the maintenance service of the supplier of the beds can be fulfilled to measure. Thanks to the RTLS nodes, all beds at the location remain in sight. Maintenance and cleaning routines are also guaranteed for beds that are not included in the standard processes for a short or longer period of time. Nobody misses out; there is no longer a need to keep extra inventory. Temporary deployment of, for example, obesity beds on a rental basis is also included in the process, so that not only the hygiene is guaranteed but also the billing can be monitored. Another big advantage: the UMCG can prove to the inspection at any time that there is not only a well-designed maintenance and cleaning protocol, but that this is also 100% complied with in practice, in accordance with the Medical Covenant Technology.
Virtual warehouse for infusion pumps
The UMCG has now made a start on the further design of logistics and maintenance processes with regard to the infusion pumps. The same automation principles are used as with the beds. But there is also a difference. With its modular structure, CureTrack takes into account the fact that logistical processes in hospitals differ greatly per category of medical devices to be used. In contrast to the “bed module”, the “virtual warehouse module” is used for critical means such as infusion pumps. In this case, the RTLS application not only provides insight into the numbers of pumps in a department, but also shows whether they are in use. Based on the agreed numbers of available pumps per department, overcapacity at departmental level can be used to supplement undercapacity in other departments. The exchange of pumps is integrated into the existing bed transports, which results in substantial efficiency gains. The medical technology department receives all pumps promptly for inspections and malfunctions (without walking or searching) and can view the actual use per department and charge on at departmental level. The goal is to have the logistics processes around infusion pumps set up in this way by June 2017. Currently, there are also various requests for other product groups and applications that will be started after the summer holidays 2017.
CureTrack results in a considerable quality increase for users. By steering on real-time information, the efficiency in logistics processes increases considerably; cleaning, maintenance and inspections are better guaranteed, in accordance with the Medical Technology Covenant. But the biggest advantage is: further optimization of patient safety in combination with ever-increasing optimization of logistics processes.
"Imagine. You enter the indication of a patient and shortly thereafter all medical resources for the nursing are ready to use. Clean, trouble-free, tested. We can make that possible together. The technology is ready.“
Patients now have the guarantee that they will only come into contact with beds and infusion pumps that have been demonstrably maintained and cleaned in accordance with the hygiene and safety rules.
Redactie MT-Integraal, "CureTrack levert UMCG logistieke efficiency op basis van real time data", 3 April 2017. [pdf in dutch]