There are two key factors in an emergency medical response in a hospital: equipment and staff training. This is true whether dealing with victims of a plane crash or responding to a single person with an infectious disease. However, many healthcare facilities are better equipped to respond to the obvious trauma of dozens of accident victims than to the rare admission of a person who is possibly highly contagious.
The current Ebola scare like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak a few years ago drives home the need for preparation. All staff need to understand the protocol and regularly practice the procedures for dealing with patients who present with even possible symptoms of the particular disease. The response usually begins with immediate isolation before a full diagnosis and treatment. Any contact with the patient puts the healthcare staff at risk.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the first line of defence for medical staff involved in treating the patient. There are many hospitals in North America currently scrambling to order the basics such as:
- Respiratory protection with full face shield, helmet or headpiece
- Single use impermeable gowns
- Single use nitrile gloves with extended cuffs
- Single use boot covers
- Single use impermeable aprons
Hospital administrators are also checking to make sure they have an adequate store of consumable supplies, including anti-viral drugs. A recent audit of Department of Homeland Security pandemic supplies uncovered quantities of supplies and drugs close to expiry dates.
Inventory Management Challenge
It is easy to see the need for robust inventory control in such an emergency. There is no time to be searching for PPE that is used only occasionally and no one is quite sure where it is stored. Essential supplies might be expired. Equipment might be on loan to another unit.
Hospital administrators and clinical managers want to be able to access all the necessary equipment and supplies immediately. They want to be confident everything is in adequate supply and ready to use. Such as response requires an inventory system that is accurate, complete and up to date.
There are three aspects to inventory management of hospital emergency equipment and supplies:
- Fixed assets such as specialized equipment that is used over and over again, including some of the PPE components
- Consumable supplies such as the single use gowns, gloves, boots and surgical hoods for emergencies and the usual thermometers and bandages
- Shared equipment such as laptop computers and bariatric wheelchairs
IntelliTrack Inventory Solutions
IntelliTrack has web based software packages that eliminate the guesswork about the state of readiness, location and quantity of essential equipment and supplies. The technology uses barcode labels to track every single piece of inventory. Not only is there a reading of location, the data capture can includes descriptors about condition, expiry date, serial number, maintenance requirements and user. All this information can be accessed on mobile devices.
The three main IntelliTrack software products are:
- IntelliTrack Fixed Assets provides detailed tracking of each piece of equipment and can even monitor age and value and calculate depreciation
- IntelliTrack Stockroom tracks the usage and levels of consumable stock and manages reorder alerts as requested
- IntelliTrack Check In/Out helps manage shared equipment, collection and allowing easy access to information about user, location, maintenance on equipment or any other report that is requested.
These software options make inventory management more accurate, efficient and cost effective. There is also a degree of accountability built in when the users, condition or equipment and duration of use are tracked. IntelliTrack software solutions can be customized for a perfect match to the needs of any healthcare provider.