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Top 5 Ways to Improve Asset Utilization at Your Healthcare Facility

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

For healthcare institutions, digital transformation is fundamentally a path to transform their relationship with patients and enhance their service capabilities. Central to the success of a digital transformation strategy in a clinical setting is the ability to optimize asset utilization and operations that revolve around it.

While the industry is relatively conservative and lags behind other verticals such as logistics and manufacturing in adopting the latest technologies, digital transformation is far more challenging in the highly regulated healthcare space.

Healthcare institutions face unique challenges when it comes to asset utilization and management. Asset utilization as part of patient appointments and medical treatments is highly unpredictable and a non-deterministic process. The demand is often volatile and subject to unforeseen and unexpected external conditions (like the COVID-19 pandemic).

Since most assets constitute a medical service — such as treatments and lab visits — the supply of resources is semi-fixed and constrained to individual entities, including doctors, experts, partners, technology vendors, and labs. Matching the volatile demand with a limited and constrained supply of resources is a growing challenge for healthcare institutions, but here are the top five ways to maximize the available asset utilization for medical organizations.

1. Identify the Barriers and Eliminate Waste Process

The first step toward maximizing asset utilization is identifying the delays, bottlenecks, and waste processes that prevent the availability of the right resources when and where most needed. Everyday actions responsible for resource underutilization include:

  • Communication lapses between administration, medical professionals, patients, and partners.
  • Information silos and a lack of a centralized knowledge base.
  • An under-optimized governance model that requires manual approvals for asset procurement and dispatch despite predictable and known requirements.
  • Applying inaccurate deterministic scheduling procedures for treatments and appointments.

By first aiming to address all of these aspects individually, healthcare institutions can target a proactive approach to asset management and optimally utilize resources to match future demands.

2. Understand the Stochastic Nature of Clinical Asset Utilization

The time taken for medical treatments and patient appointments is highly variable and stochastic (randomly distributed). Instead of following a deterministic approach to managing the available assets and resources, healthcare facility administration should account for the variables and probabilities that can potentially affect the duration of appointments and scheduling.

For instance, consider the availability of lab technicians, nursing staff, and medical specialists when scheduling treatments and appointments for specific ailments and patient histories.

3. Real-Time Tracking & Predictive Analytics

Correctly estimating probabilities and accounting for a growing number of variables quickly becomes a complex task that requires advanced analytics capabilities, proactive planning, and real-time tracking of the available assets. These technologies enable data-driven decision-making for the monitoring, maintenance, and optimization of limited assets and resources and improve asset availability, utilization, and performance.

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Asset Management Program Implementation: A Checklist for Healthcare Facilities

While medical service providers invest in third-party cloud-based analytics solutions for asset management, it’s essential to take additional security measures to comply with appropriate healthcare regulations. These measures include strong Identity and Access Management (IAM), encryption of healthcare records, and training administrators and users on cybersecurity best practices.

4. Take a Customer-Centric View of Asset Utilization

Center your asset utilization optimization efforts from an end-user perspective. For healthcare organizations, patient experience is not just another decision metric but a key consideration for managing assets.

The customer-centric view incorporates a variety of decision metrics that directly affect patient experience and, ultimately, their well-being through the treatment. Medical history; health risk and urgency; internal and external limitations should be considered for planning asset distribution, appointment scheduling, lab visits, and tests, among other critical medical treatment activities.

5. Consider Continual Improvement and Optimization

It’s important to understand that healthcare institutions experience continuously evolving requirements and limitations associated with asset utilization. A seasonal virus or a global pandemic can quickly change the demands on specific assets and healthcare services.

Modeling asset utilization demands is not a one-time process but should dynamically incorporate new usage trends, decision metrics, and circumstances. A feedback loop that monitors asset utilization and optimizes future decisions based on the available data and evolving requirements is key to maximizing the performance.

These best practices and guidelines are typically a part of an end-to-end asset management program focused on the people, processes, and technologies within the healthcare facility. An exhaustive approach to developing a customer-centric asset management program allows healthcare organizations to gain several vital benefits:

  • Optimized yield and workforce productivity.
  • Improved patient experience and well-being.
  • Preparation to manage unforeseen demand spikes, especially in emergencies.
  • Reduced operational cost.
  • Improved asset health by planning for predictive maintenance and downtime.

The demand for advanced asset utilization management technologies as part of digital transformation has multiplied in recent years. According to a recent Accenture report, 93% of healthcare executives are innovating with urgency this year. 81% have acknowledged an accelerating pace of innovation. In this context, cloud computing, AI, and IoT applications for maximizing asset utilization will be crucial for healthcare organizations.

When you’re ready to learn more about improving asset utilization at your healthcare facility, contact Joerns.

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