After building construction costs, medical equipment purchases are the second largest expenditure for a healthcare project. Depending on a project’s program, equipment costs can account for as much as 30% of the entire project budget. For this reason, many healthcare organizations try and maximize the amount of existing equipment that can be relocated to the new space to reduce the cost outlay for new equipment. This requires that an accurate equipment inventory be taken.
Often hospitals are not prepared to undertake a large-scale medical equipment inventory and outsource the service to a medical equipment planner. Below are suggestions on how hospitals can prepare to ensure a smooth and accurate inventory by a medical equipment planner.
Make sure the scope/purpose of the inventory is well defined.
An easy way to ensure that your inventory is done quickly and accurately is to make sure the scope is accurately defined. Work with your clinical staff to identify the equipment that needs to be inventoried. Clearly convey the type of information you would like to be recorded – i.e., age, model number, manufacturer, etc. This ensures that the medical equipment planner will not waste time inventorying products or specifications that do not pertain to the project.
Review existing equipment lists/space drawings with the medical equipment planner.
This is an obvious one. The more information your medical equipment planning team knows before they set foot on site, the better. This saves time by reducing the number of questions the medical equipment planners will have on site and allows them to properly plan with staffing and hours to ensure that the inventory is completed efficiently and accurately. This can also be a great opportunity to review your current inventory system and see areas where it may need improvement.
On-site hospital staff should be made aware of the inventory.
Often facility management or project management staff fail to make the on-site hospital staff (nurses, doctors, administration) aware of the inventory process. This can lead to multiple issues including spaces not being available for inventory because they are in use, equipment being overlooked because it is in the wrong storage area or areas being locked. It is important that all employees are made aware of the inventory so that there is no confusion. Often on-site staff have a level of anxiety/confusion when strangers come into a secure patient area. It is good practice to share the goals of the inventory process with nursing staff and have a contact person on-site in each area that is being inventoried so that if the medical equipment planner has a question or concern, they have someone can assist them. This also allows the medical equipment planner a chance to pick the brain of staff who use the equipment on a day-to-day basis. These users often have insights that others don’t.
For high-use areas, a schedule should be preplanned with medical equipment planner.
Areas like emergency departments and operating rooms require special attention. If a procedure is taking place in these rooms, then it is not possible to inventory them. To save time it is best practice to schedule inventories at a time when these rooms are not being used (or at a time when the traffic of the area is lighter). This ensures that the medical equipment planner can get in and out of the space quickly and will not disturb the day-to-day functions of the space.
By following the above suggestions, you increase the accuracy of the inventory and obtain a better understanding of what can be re-used versus what needs to be purchased new.