There are many asset tracking techniques in hospitals available now. Asset tracking facilitates managing and maintaining an organization's assets and equipment.
Asset tracking is the process of tracking the asset location and is part of asset management. The main objective of asset tracking is to detect asset theft and loss, gain valuable business insights and maximize operational efficiency.
Asset Tracking System provides complete information on all the assets, where their exact locations are and in what working conditions they are in. The system also triggers notifications and alerts regarding an asset's scheduled or preventive maintenance.
How is Asset Tracking Important for a Hospital?
The general objective of Asset Tracking is to save time and money while increasing overall asset productivity. It enables to keep real-time monitoring of a hospital's assets and equipment.
1. Asset Information on a fingertip
Through asset tracking, the user receives accurate information about the assets in real-time. In this era of the Cloud, the data becomes available on the system as well as smartphones. This enables managing the assets efficiently and effectively.
2. Improved Customer Service
Enhanced systems deliver accurate data about all assets and inventories. This greatly helps improve the customer service levels, translating into better internal operations, inventory management or customer satisfaction.
3. Real-time Information
Information such as the exact location of an asset, who the current user is is just a click away. Assets can be effectively managed from other locations. Moreover, there is the prevention of asset loss or theft as their movement is constantly tracked.
4. Increased Productivity
Asset tracking streamlines business operations and identifies issues before they become incidents. It also helps in better operational planning and resource utilization.
5. Saving money
Unplanned maintenance can be a big hurdle if assets are not taken care of properly. Through asset management software, maintenance notifications and alerts are triggered off on a regular basis. This also significantly increases the lifespan of assets.
Asset Tracking Techniques that can be applied in Hospitals
There is a variety of asset tracking techniques and it is not always easy to choose the right one. The right technique, fulfilling the needs of working criteria and budget parameters has been identified and implemented.
Various types of asset tracking techniques along with their benefits in hospitals are:
1. Barcode Asset Tracking
Barcode represents data in the visual format i.e. machine-readable information of the item on which it is attached. A barcode represents data by varying in widths and spacing of parallel lines.
The barcode is referred to as a linear or 1-dimensional code and can be scanned by barcode readers.
Barcode tags contain vital information like customer or item identification, pricing, tracking information and more. This information is readable by barcode reader machines.
Benefits of Barcode Asset Tracking:
- Accurate and Improved Inventory Management
- Fast and Efficient Operations
- Speeding up the supply chain
- Increased Accountability
- More Data Storage
- Accurate Asset location
- Manpower Reduction
- A simplified version of record-keeping
- Reduced cost of employee training
2. QR Code Asset Tracking
QR code is a type of barcode only. it also represents data in a visual format of machine-readable information about the item on which it is attached.
QR code (Quick Response code) is a trademark for a type of matrix or 2D barcode. 2D barcodes can also be read using application software on smartphone devices with their in-built cameras.
The QR code uses four standardized encoding modes that are numeric, alpha-numeric, binary, and kanji, and stores data efficiently.
Benefits of QR code Asset Tracking:
- Scanning enables by Smartphone
- Extremely Fast Scanning
- Good Fault Tolerance
- Stores large amount of Information
- Can be used for any asset
- Potential to generate revenue
- Store up to more than 100 times data as other barcodes
- Can scan it from any direction and at any angle up to 360°
- Easier to read and decode
- Less risk of background interference
3. RFID Asset Tracking
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a technology that enables digital data encoded in RFID tags (smart labels) to be captured and read through radio waves.
RFID readers can accurately scan an asset quite a distance away. This technology makes it easier for a person to multiple scans in just a few seconds.
The RFID tag can also store maintenance activities related to information and sensor data that can be read and written by a field technician.
Benefits of RFID Asset Tracking:
- Read Multiple Tags at a time
- Tags can be integrated with sensors and GPS technology
- Improved Asset Security through real-time alerts and alarms
- Reduced time spent over Inventory Information
- Important Service Information can be stored on the asset itself
- RFID automatically collects data eliminating human effort or error
- Does not need line to line to read data information
- Can read data from long distance
- Password is encrypted and data is secured
- RFID tags are reusable as they are covered with a plastic layer
4. NFC Asset Tracking
NFC (Near Field Communication) is a subset of RFID.
It is an extension of high frequency (HF) RFID, which is characterized by simple tags that work in very short range (typically half an inch).
The technology used for working of NFC is electromagnetic induction (to transmit information).
NFC tag is upon each asset, information is managed and data read by NFC phone.
Through NFC, it is possible to track which asset has been tagged, who read the tag, its geo-location with actual trace time.
Benefits of NFC Asset Tracking:
- NFC Tags can be scanned with Smartphones
- Capable of two-way communication
- Communication is of low proximity, few centimeters
- Scan of one NFC tag at a time
- Provides Compliance and Policy
- Better user Experience
- Great Security
- Less Costly
- Low Range of Scanning
5. Asset Tracking with BLE beacons
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), started as recently as 2011, exchanges a small amount of data at a regular interval of time.
Through BLE beacons (or tags) and its receivers (or smartphones), assets can be tracked and monitored outdoor as well as indoors.
BLE also preserves energy and is able to run for a long time.
Benefits of BLE Asset Tracking:
- Easy to Implement
- Zero Cost of Wiring & Installation
- Scan through Smartphones
- Quickly Read Assets
- No Individual Scanning of Assets Required
- Real-time Tracking
- Tracking of both Users and Assets without additional hardware
- Minimal Battery Drain
6. GPS Asset Tracking
GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite-based radio navigation system.
The GPS does not require any individual user to transfer data, it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception.
It helps you in monitoring the exact location of the asset and is mostly used in vehicles.
Benefits of GPS Asset Tracking:
- Route Optimization
- Reduced Response Time for Customer Service
- Reduced Fuel Costs
- Improved Vehicle Safety
- Reduce Losses due to Theft
- Easy to Use
- Highly Secure
- Compatible with Mobile Phones
7. IoT Asset Tracking
IoT (Internet of Things) is a system of interconnected computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs). It has the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Benefits of IoT Asset Tracking:
- Locate and Track Technology
- Low Power Consumption
- Eliminate Delays
- Reduce Costs and Improved ROI
- Improve Customer Experience
- Real-time Tracking
- Two-way Communication
Asset tracking and its techniques are an important task to be done in the hospitals to get all data and information on the assets and equipment. The system provides comprehensive information at one go. All that is required is to cover the assets and inventories with tags with their unique identification number.
The devices for scanning of asset tags give information on all the assets and equipment, making the operations more structured and streamlined.