Navigating Post-COVID Margin Pressures by Optimizing Utilization of Mobile Equipment

The last several months of COVID experience has amplified the challenges providers face to rationalize their cost structure in the wake of substantial variations in patient and procedural demand.  These challenges are not new but have become even more critical to manage as we plan for a post-COVID environment in which organizations need to manage “routine” demand while also planning for “surge” capacity in the event of pandemics or other national disasters. 

Clinical asset availability is a critical care delivery variable that providers are seeking to optimize as they plan for varying volume.  Historically, many leadership teams have struggled with the growing capital and operating costs associated with clinician demands for more equipment to meet existing patient and procedural volume.  Leaders are rightfully concerned with how they can manage margins going forward in the face of even greater uncertainty regarding means to marry asset capacity with fluctuating demand. 

What some health system leaders may not fully appreciate is that they may already have more asset capacity in their organization than they realize to meet existing and future demand.  Based on over 20 years’ experience across more than 3,700 provider locations and data on over 3.4M clinical assets, TRIMEDX’s data and experience reveal that most organizations utilize only 40-45% of the assets in their inventory on a daily basis while “peak” daily utilization over a multiple-month period is only 60-65%.   

These facts often conflict with strong caregiver impressions that their organization lacks needed equipment, resulting in their ongoing requests for additional medical equipment.  Health system leaders should investigate the root cause of this disparity – this is often not an issue of insufficient device capacity but rather gaps in the underlying processes and ownership of the management of the flow of assets within the care environment. 

TRIMEDX data also reveals that 85-90% of a provider’s clinical assets are mobile, meaning they move from location-to-location during normal use, passing through the hands of multiple caregivers and support personnel.  In our experience, the management of these assets and the optimization of their capacity versus demand is often described as “everyone’s” role yet “no one’s” role. 

This lack of organizational management of mobile assets is more than simply a utilization issue.  Our client experience reveals: 

  • Nurses spend an average of 45 minutes each shift searching for needed equipment a major source of inefficiency and dissatisfaction and contributor to burn-out and turn-over; 
  • Up to 40% of mobile medical devices fail objective cleanliness testing between patient uses, a significant contributor to the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs); 
  • Organizations may be renting additional assets even in the face of sub-optimal utilization of owned assets, adding to organizational expense. 

 Addressing these challenges requires a solution which: 

  • Centers on best practice-based organizational process redesign to create standard work and accountable leadership; 
  • Leverages data and technology to enable real-time visibility to existing inventory capacity and trending of actual day-to-day patient and procedural demand; 
  • Utilizes formal key process indicators (KPI’s) and a culture of process improvement (PI) to measure the effectiveness of organizational processes and discipline to adjust policies and procedures as required to achieve desired outcomes. 

The TRIMEDX Mobile Medical Equipment (MME) program is a technology-enabled solution now deployed to dozens of locations across the country.  Our solution can be deployed within several weeks and has a consistent track-record of delivering tangible financial and operational results: 

  • Increasing daily average mobile asset utilization from 40-45% to greater than 75%, allowing for unneeded equipment for routine use to be sequestered or reallocated for future surge capacity; 
  • Increasing objective mobile medical equipment cleanliness by 57-60%; 
  • Increasing nursing satisfaction with mobile equipment management by 47-50%; 
  • Reducing nursing time spent searching for mobile equipment by 72-75%; 
  • Reducing unneeded mobile equipment rental expense by 50-80%. 

While balancing inventory levels versus changing demand may appear difficult, TRIMEDX has solutions to help you address these challenges. 

To learn more how we can help you unlock the full potential of your clinical assets click here.