Digitized IV Pump Tracking for Better Clinical Outcomes

IV pumps are a piece of equipment that clinical staff need often (and urgently). Their presence or absence is critical to patient care, but it is not uncommon for staff to lose track of them, to find that somebody else took one, or realize that they do not have one that is properly sanitized. Given their unique importance to patient care, IV pump tracking and availability is key. Let’s take a look at how Bluetooth tracking is the most efficient way to track IV pumps indoors

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IV Pump Indoor Location Tracking

IV pumps are particularly easy to misplace, and poor tracking can cause nurses to literally hide pumps so they know where they can find them later. Nurses who don’t trust the IV pump tracking system will take matters into their own hands, so it becomes important to create a system they are comfortable with. Nurses should also not have to worry about inventory management; they should be able to focus fully on patient care. Some hospitals try to address this situation by simply buying or leasing more pumps, and then end up with overstocked inventory that is still not getting to patients in a timely manner. That’s why effective IV pump tracking is so important. 

Given the basic, essential nature of IV pumps, they make a good starting point for moving to a full real-time tracking system for assets. This can eventually include everything from beds to disposable supplies. Many hospitals are finding that the systems they use are no longer sufficient in today’s complicated world, or simply that better options are available. As technology continues to improve, new ways to track and manage IV pumps will no doubt be invented, but for now, Bluetooth tracking has proved to be the best option. Here’s why digitized Bluetooth-based real-time IV pump tracking is essential to hospitals

How Does IV Pump Availability Impact Patient Care?

IV pumps, also called infusion pumps, may be the most commonly used machines in patient care. Ninety percent of hospitalized patients receive some kind of IV medications, most of which are delivered by pump. They are required for providing fluids, medication, and sometimes nutrition to patients. They are used to administer anesthesia or rehydrate dehydrated patients. If IV pumps get lost (or even stolen; they are expensive devices and have been known to walk out the door), then they are not available when patients need them.

IV pumps also need power, although they can be operated for a period of time using batteries. Newer IV and infusion pumps are “smart,” which means they can be programmed to drip at certain speeds, etc, and this also means they have Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity, but also further increases their expense.
Without enough IV pumps available, a hospital cannot treat all the patients who come in the door and may have to resort to more primitive measures that waste the time of nursing staff.

How Does IV Pump Sanitation Impact Patient Care?

The other side of the picture is that IV pumps have to be clean and ready to go. Because the IV pump is in contact with the patient, it is automatically considered contaminated after use and has to go through an entire sanitation cycle before it can be used again. This is a complicated process that involves:

  • Removing from the patient and marking for pickup.
  • Collection by clinical technicians (ClinTech).
  • Transport to a “dirty” storage room. Typically each floor has its own.
  • Sanitization following a specific protocol, this typically uses an alcohol-based detergent.
  • Inspected for operability and repaired if needed, including replacement of backup batteries
  • Transport to a “clean” storage room for reuse.

Needless to say, IV pumps can be lost or forgotten at any part of this stage, and a dirty IV pump cannot be used on patients without an extreme level of risk. A hospital’s available IV pumps are, thus, only those in the “clean” storage room, and it’s vital to ensure that used pumps get there as quickly as possible without compromising patient safety.

Proper tracking ensures that IV pumps are sanitized in a timely manner (and do not build-up to the point where the chore becomes annoying for ClinTech), and then get to the cleanroom without taking any detours. Nurses and doctors know exactly how many IV pumps they have available and where they are.
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How Digital Tracking Supports Patient Care

In addition to ensuring IV pump tracking and availability, digital tracking supports patient care and improved outcomes in a number of ways:

  • It reduces time spent searching for “missing” IV pumps, including nurses or other clinical staff having to go to another floor to find available pumps. If there really are no pumps on the floor, a staff member can tell without having to look and knows to go straight to where they are available.
  • It ensures that used pumps are collected promptly instead of sitting by beds or in ER bays for an extended period of time, improving availability. The sanitation workflow can be properly tracked and monitored and pumps made available again faster.
  • It reduces so-called buffer inventory, allowing hospitals to save money by not having to buy extra pumps to allow for misplaced pumps or wasted time getting them cleaned.

Digital tracking, in other words, reduces the amount of time wasted tracking down pumps. Smart pumps can tell nurses whether or not they are clean, reducing errors and protecting patients from contamination and other problems. The key here, though, is reducing so-called “hunt time,” which can leave a patient without their medication for longer than is truly necessary and result in frustration for clinical staff. This then results in hoarding, which further increases hunt time.

It ensures that pumps are available for all patients that need them without wasting a lot of money acquiring and storing extra pumps.

How Bluetooth Tracking Solutions Improve Outcomes

Bluetooth tracking can support everything already mentioned and further improve patient outcomes. Bluetooth is ideal for tracking hospital assets because the chips are inexpensive and the system allows for a fine enough grid that it is even possible to tell what shelf in the storage room an object is on, further reducing search times.
Bluetooth tracking solutions can:

  • Digitally stamp pumps as clean after they have been sanitized. This can quickly be checked by staff using a smartphone app. Pumps found in the cleanroom without a stamp can be flagged and returned for cleaning. Thus, it can be guaranteed that only clean IV pumps are being assigned to patients. It can also track the full protocol and workflow, helping staff stick to protocols and clean IV pumps correctly. This reduces the risk of cross-contamination and improves patient outcomes.
  • Manage PAR (Periodical Automatic Replenishment) levels so as to ensure that a consistent IV pump inventory is kept, that broken pumps are replaced as needed and pumps reaching the end of their lifespan are noted and switched out. This generally allows for a lower pump inventory with higher availability.
  • Reduce search time, wasting less staff time and improving outcomes in emergency situations. The system eliminates the need to call somebody to request a pump and reduces the chance of pumps being hoarded. Staff can even determine where in the storage room pumps are, even if they have been put back on the wrong shelf.
  • Optimize IV pump flagging so pumps are picked up promptly by ClinTech. Broken pumps can also be properly flagged for repair or disposal, allowing repaired pumps to be returned to service faster and improving inventory control. Pumps that are in the shop can also be tracked and the maintenance workflow improved.
  • Optimize inventory and avoid overstocking. Money and storage space is not wasted stocking pumps that are never used, freeing both up for other priorities. At the same time, the hospital can avoid having to borrow or lease pumps during a surge or a mass casualty event. You can set up inventory alerts that help you track if inventory is unusually high or low.
  • Flag pumps that are subject to a recall and get them out of circulation.
  • Ensure that pumps are stored in a centralized location and track down “hoarded” pumps so they can be returned to circulation. This does require obtaining nurse buy-in so that nurses are less inclined to hide or hoard pumps in the first place, and building their confidence in the system. Hospitals should include senior nurses in the design of inventory control systems so that their input is used and you can avoid setting up systems they will not comply with, improving morale and trust.
  • Gather and store data on IV pump utilization that can help determine optimum inventory levels, improve the sanitization workflow, and be combined with other data to improve inventory and workflow in general.

Bluetooth Tracking is Vital for Healthcare

Most modern smart pumps are, in fact, already Bluetooth-ready, meaning that there is no need to “tag” these pumps with beacons. The IV pump tracking solutions can generate an alarm if an IV pump is ever removed from clinical areas (except for broken pumps that are tagged out for disposal), and thus acts to prevent theft as well as hoarding of pumps by worried staff. It also allows for the tag in and tag out of infusion pumps that are temporarily sent home with a patient, ensuring that those pumps, too, are properly traced and returned when no longer needed. offers robust Bluetooth IV pump tracking solutions, and hardware which uses less power, has to be replaced less often and integrates well with Bluetooth-based smart pumps comparing to other technologies. Our healthcare solutions further support decision making when controlling inventory. Contact us to find out how our solutions can help you or to schedule a demo.

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