Asset Management - The missing link in medical device supply chain

May 26, 2018

Atto Asset Manager

Asset Management is one of the most ignored part of the supply chain jig-saw for medical devices at least in developing countries.

The installed base of assets with their service history, utilization, cost of ownership etc provides rich analytics to a hospital with respect to their future purchasing decision. It also offers a very good feed back on the existing vendors regarding their service levels, costs associated with service, documentation support, adherence to maintenance schedules and service contracts.

Ageing analysis, TCO, utilization, asset write-off notifications etc. provide rich inputs to the purchase teams to prioritize their budgets and phase out more high maintenance devices and bring in more efficient and durable devices instead.

However this feedback loop between asset performance and procurement is often missing.

For the companies too, this offers a huge cache of information on the on-field performance of their devices, performance of the their service teams as well as iron out usage deficiencies by customers by ensuring proper training.

In our survey about 5% of the hospitals did not manage or track their assets in any form. Over 24% used paper based tracking / record keeping for their assets. About 48% used excel sheets to record the details of their assets. 23% of the hospitals used asset manager module of their HIS (Hospital Information System).

Over 53% of the hospitals using the AM Module, used it purely as an inventory database, while remaining used it to schedule AM/ PM and calibration. About 25% of these used a separate ticketing solution to resolve equipment breakdowns.

Over 40% of respondents faced issues in reaching out to the right supplier / service provider in case of equipment break down.

Why is proper asset management in hospitals such a challenging process?

Most cited reason is that the entire onus of documentation and updates lies on the bio-medical department. This involves spending hundreds of hours a year ensuring that the data across multiple sources matched, paper-based and system based data matched, all service calls were logged and closed appropriately, tasks were scheduled correctly and completed on time and documentation was up-to-date. When documentation becomes cumbersome, normally more important tasks of actual maintenance and support take precedence.

We detail some of the flaws in existing process of asset management -

The asset management software available on legacy and most existing HIS are simply databases which do not take into account the processes associated with managing an asset.

Multiple software platforms to perform various tasks related to asset management which results in lack of visibility. For e.g. ticket management is usually run of different software. Hence the equipment condition is often not visible when one takes a look at the asset list.

The asset list is usually linked to purchase process. Hence even items which have been purchased, used and written off still exists as a record. Items which have been written-off, items under repair, items kept for standby etc. do not get reflected in the asset list and are still shown as active assets creating a gap between procurement and biomedical teams.

Purchases are also made against indent raised by a department. However, equipments are rotated across departments to meet the work load or based on maintenance schedules. This is very often not captured leading to a mismatch in asset mapping.

Entire documentation work is the responsibility of biomedical engineer. Very often entire documentation is paper based and slowly but surely, the system data deviates from paper based data creating audit issues.

User departments, suppliers / service providers, purchase and biomedical departments work in silos there by necessitating multiple communications and work flows to get work done. This creates multiple data sources and often results in lack of traceability.

We attempt to list the design elements which would create a robust asset management system which aids in critical decision making. These elements form the core of our asset management platform.

Form Factor — We felt that tasks like communication, incident reporting, asset identification etc should be made as easy as possible. A smartphone is a great medium to ensure portability and provide immediate access to data. Hence, while activities which required more attention and access to more information were web-based, we provided a mobile app based medium for the remaining tasks to be performed. This has ensured a very high level of adherence in terms of incident reporting and resolution, documentation of all communication related an asset (within team members and with suppliers / service providers) and basic asset identification. We also used the camera feature and bar-code/ QR code scan functionality of a mobile phone to identify assets and also record pictures / videos of the asset so that the same can be shared and kept as a record for resolution purposes.

Work-Flows — Ensure that every user is enabled to play their role in the asset management process. This means the user department is able to easily access asset information, relate to analytics of the assets in their department, raise incidents, have visibility of the resolution and also resolve the incidents. Suppliers are able to communicate and update asset status, resolve incidents, get notified about upcoming tasks and also upload documentation related to tasks and scheduled activity.

Portability of contacts — Synchronization of supplier / service provider contacts across mobile, email service and HIS database is very critical. Our platform encourages easy digitization of contacts and linking them to the suppliers and assets. Doing so allows easy routing and documentation of communication related to assets and avoids any ambiguity during audits.

Networking — Doctor’s Bazaar marketplace platform has an ever growing list of suppliers with their products, channel partners and team members on-boarded on the platform. Via the asset manager, hospitals can chose to link their assets to these companies and allow them to be linked to their ServiceDesk. This allows bi-directional visibility of the health of installed assets, auto-routes information and communication to the right person in the company hierarchy as well as prevents the need to manage vendor contacts. It also allows hospitals to easily procure spares, accessories and consumables related to the asset directly from authorized channel partner.

Doctor’s Bazaar is the world’s first platform where companies are linked both on the sell side as well as on the service side with their customers. The platform also ensures privacy by segregation of data and communication and providing visibility to only the relevant people across the network.

Analytics — Our platform enables tracking of costs, utilization time, vendor performance, service agreement contract adherence aiding in procurement decisions as well

We believe that these features would encourage more hospitals to manage their assets digitally and ensure that a very critical GAP in medical device supply chain is overcome by providing connectivity and visibility across all stakeholders.

Doctors Bazaar is an Enterprise platform for medical devices which performs Networking, Interaction and Marketplace functions. It aims to connect thousands of medical device Companies with millions of hospitals, clinics and doctors around the world — Improving product discovery, product — therapy fit, global procurement and servicing solutions for medical devices

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