Hospital Asset-Management Market Surges Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Sabyasachi Ghosh

RFID technologies can act as a beacon for expansion.

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The management of hospitals is a difficult and challenging task. Besides providing quality medical care to patients, a lot of administrative work is involved. This involves copious amounts of paperwork, which tends to become extremely tedious at times. In today’s world, life is unfathomable without technological advancements. The manual compilation of hospital records is now relegated to the back benches in favor of increased automation of workflows.

Adoption of intelligent business analytics has played an instrumental role in the eradication of workflow bottlenecks, allowing hospitals to focus on providing quality medical care to patients. Improving quality of services delivered in hospitals improves performance and leads to an uptick in the demand for medical care services by customers, while also improving patient trust in healthcare providers. With the objective of providing timely, equitable, integrated and efficient treatment, hospitals are investing a significant amount of their budget in developing efficient asset-management services. This has created immense growth opportunities for hospital asset management.

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unprecedented challenges to healthcare providers. With infections spiking exponentially, healthcare providers have been struggling to accommodate the rising number of patients, attributed to a limited availability of hospital assets such as respirators, surgical masks, ventilators, beds and patient-monitoring systems. Additionally, healthcare facilities have become transmission hubs for the coronavirus, with non-infected patients and medical practitioners being at a very high risk.

As a consequence, healthcare providers are increasingly relying on contactless treatment. Thus, hospitals are investing heavily in artificial intelligence and software, including radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, to effectively track and manage patient condition. RFID systems allow live monitoring of a situation via a virtual lens, enabling hospital personnel to maintain social distancing and thus reduce the chances of contracting the infection. A wristband is provided to each patient, as well as to all doctors, caretakers and other employees, which allows the central system to monitor them individually.

Patient Admission and Registration at Remote Testing Facilities Become Streamlined
With a rapidly increasing COVID-19 patient pool, it has become cumbersome to maintain records of those who have been admitted for treatment. RFID systems have greatly eased the burden on remote testing facilities with regard to patient data entry. RFID helps in this regard by enabling the utilization of a mobile device to record patient check-ins and the completion of a screening questionnaire. It allows healthcare providers to scan a patient’s driving license through his or her car window, thereby minimizing patient-to-caregiver contact and increasing throughput speed.

In addition, the application is able to track COVID-19 testing process from administration and collection to transportation and result, simultaneously providing printable test tube labels and scannable barcodes that can be used for patient retrieval and data entry. RFID apps have assisted healthcare professionals in printing QR code mobile labels for patients, allowing them to scan and retrieve their own results. These results provide a basis for the next course of action, along with other relevant information from the screening facility.

Staff Safety Is of Paramount Importance to Ensure Proper Service Delivery
Hospital employees, including nurses, doctors, caretakers and surgeons, are considered important assets within a medical care setting. Therefore, protecting their interests is of immense importance. Only if workers feel safe and secure can they be in a position to deliver quality healthcare to patients. Most hospitals around the world consider staff safety extremely important.

According to a report published by the American Hospital Association in 2017, hospitals throughout the United States spent nearly $2.7 billion to protect personnel from community violence-related issues. This is in response to an increase in incidences of sporadic violence within healthcare settings. Several workers have been physically and verbally abused, either by disoriented patients or their family members. In countries such as India, violence against healthcare workers has significantly elevated in the midst of the pandemic. Several employees have been assaulted while on duty.

To prevent such incidents of violence, asset management is of primary importance. Healthcare providers worldwide have ensured the implementation of strict guidelines and safety measures, which include wireless panic buttons embedded in ID badges, the installation of safety cameras and strict security checking of incoming patients and relatives . RFID Discovery, an important market player specializing in RFID services, provides its Staff Safety Emergency Call System with the objective of safeguarding medical staff from personal attacks from patients or visitors in healthcare environments.

Each member of the medical team requiring protection wears an RFID tag integrated into her or her name badge. This badge sends a unique ID number at regular intervals to a network of radio frequency receivers, which then track its location. When in hostile situations, an individual can simply press a button, which sends out a distress signal that is received by sensors throughout the building, along with that person’s location.

COVID-19: An Inflexion Point for Increased Usage of AI in Asset Management
With the pandemic showing minimal signs of cessation, it is clear that the healthcare industry is in a transition phase in which human-to-human interaction, in terms of medical aid, is increasingly being replaced with automated caregiving and the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI). With mandatory social-distancing measures in place, hospitals are developing alternative approaches toward patient and staff management.

As the number of patients with various chronic and infectious diseases increase every day, managing everyday operations within healthcare settings has become a challenging task. The underutilization of mobile assets costs the healthcare sector millions of dollars annually. This is especially true for hospitals with multiple floors and a large space. Therefore, the utilization of RFID-based asset-management services greatly helps mitigate such losses and enables healthcare agencies to concentrate more on critical areas, such as drug development and vaccine formulations.

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for key hospital asset-management service providers to augment their market shares. For instance, CenTrak has boosted its asset-tracking and inventory-management services by developing an efficient workflow to quickly locate and identify the status of critical medical equipment availability. The company has increased its supply of infusion pumps, isolation carts, ventilators, feeding pumps, CRRT dialysis machines and other important hospital assets, along with personal protective equipment (PPE), in order to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers.

Similarly, Stanley Healthcare has beefed up its supply chain to provide timely services of critical assets, such as ventilators and respirators, to healthcare providers during this time of crisis. In short, the future of hospital asset-management solutions is anticipated to receive an upward thrust in the years to come.

With more than nine years of experience in business research and consulting, Sabyasachi Ghosh (Saby) heads Fact.MR‘s Healthcare Domain in identifying the pain points, issues and challenges faced by industry stakeholders. Ghosh has authored 150 and supervised more than 400 syndicated market research reports regarding the healthcare and medical devices sector. He has partnered with more than 20 multinational companies in their strategy planning, GTM strategy, product feasibility analysis and pipeline analysis. Insights presented in this article are based on Fact.MR’s ongoing research study on the hospital ssset-management market.