Using Disruptive Technologies to Locate Your Medical Devices

Disruptive technologies are noteworthy for their role in transforming how a business, industry, or consumer operates. Some obvious examples of disruptive technologies include cell phones, the internet, and 3D printing. This technology displaced the traditional way of doing things — and because of how efficient and successful it is— that displacement tends to happen rapidly.

In the healthcare setting, disruptive technology often takes the form of devices such as wearable health monitors, handheld wireless ultrasound machines, and continuous blood glucose monitors. Even as medical devices like these become smaller, more mobile, and more connected, any technology tied to healthcare comes with its own set of unique challenges. In fact, sometimes disruptive technology takes the form of solutions and tools that help to locate and manage devices.

In 2022, GE Healthcare, in a double-blind study, performed 60 in-depth interviews with biomedical engineers, clinical engineers, IT professionals, and chief nursing information officers. These conversations revealed that their top challenge was locating devices.

Solving Medical Device Technology Location Tracking

Biomed and IT teams need practical, efficient ways to solve the challenges that disruptive medical device technologies present while also allowing them to prioritize patient well-being.

The interviews pinpointed locating devices as the respondents' top concern overall. A comment from one interviewee provides insight into a common problem: "The biggest challenge is keeping track of [devices], especially IV pumps. We are a small community hospital, and if we have to have someone transferred to one of the big city hospitals, where they have to use one of our IV pumps and take them on an ambulance, then it is difficult to get that back." Another user stated that "our biggest problem is traceability in and out of operating theatres or emergency departments."

Most facilities rely on radio-frequency identification (RFID) and barcodes for tracking. However, the downside of these methods is that they tend to be provided by vendors, so they vary by device and rely on manual input. This challenge was noted by another interviewee: "We do not have the ability to choose a single player to cover the equipment of different suppliers."

This study participant could no doubt make use of a tool that employs vendor-agnostic tracking with dashboard views. That type of solution allows for seamless reporting on the location of any device—no matter the vendor—and whether it is available or in use by a patient.

Seeking Effective Solutions for Medical Device Technology Tracking

Biomed and IT teams struggle with a lack of visibility into multivendor devices and multiple networks. These stakeholders could benefit from vendor-agnostic tools — purpose-built for the healthcare environment — that can track and monitor all devices from one source.

Encompass is a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) that is used to track, manage, and analyze location data for all your mobile assets, tackling the top problem that healthcare teams face.

Encompass is a cloud-deployed solution that integrates seamlessly into your facility, allowing you to locate and manage your full fleet of medical device technology and equipment. The RTLS consists of tracking software, wireless location beacons, and equipment transponder beacons. It tracks and displays your medical device technology assets in a web application that can be viewed on a phone, tablet, or computer. In a small to medium size hospital with 100 to 300 staffed beds, employing Encompass reduces the average equipment search time from 24 minutes to just 4 minutes. With this solution, you can spend more time caring for patients, and less time searching for equipment.

When IT and biomed teams need help tracking mobile medical devices and managing these helpful but often disruptive technologies, Encompass from GE Healthcare can provide a solution for your device locating needs.