Asset Tracking / Blog

How to Solve the Catch-22 of Hoarding

30 minutes.

That’s how long the average nurse spends searching for equipment during a 10-hour shift. That’s the equipment he/she needs to provide patient care: IV pumps, wheelchairs, vein finders, bladder scanners, etc.

30 minutes? Why is it taking nurses so long to find the equipment that they need?

Today we’d like to address the issue of hoarding, which is a prominent problem in hospitals across the country.

What is Hoarding?

Because nurses struggle to find the medical equipment that they need when they need it, they’ve taken matters into their own hands. From janitor closets to ceiling tiles, nurses are stashing IV pumps and other equipment away to ensure that they have their own supply at the ready. This is what is often referred to as “hoarding.”

And while they have good intentions for hoarding (to provide faster, better patient care), this is a major issue for equipment inventory. Hospitals feel the effect as perceived equipment shortages, causing frustration for staff and delays to patient care. And because equipment is hidden away, it can’t be found for preventive maintenance and recalls, putting staff and patients at risk.

The immediate solution seems to purchase more equipment, and indeed many hospitals typically stock 20% more equipment than they need… which brings to light an even bigger problem: the equipment is only being used at 30-40% of its potential.

Low Utilization Rates

Yes, you’re reading that correctly – the industry average for medical equipment utilization is 30-40%. And while we could spend some time speculating as to why it’s so low, here are a couple of reasons that come to mind:

  • The Hoarding Problem. Because nurses stash equipment away, they’re the only ones that know about it. And if they aren’t using it, it’s not doing anyone any good; in fact, it’s chipping away at the utilization rate.
  • Lack of Visibility. In that same vein, nurses can’t find equipment. And you can’t use equipment that you can’t find.

To sum it up – hoarding is truly a catch-22. Nurses don’t have access to the equipment they need, so they hide it, preventing other nurses from using it, resulting in poor utilization rates and equipment shortages.

Solving the Hoarding Problem

How to stop hoarding? Unfortunately, it’s a cultural issue that can be hard to reverse once it’s a habit. Hospitals will often purchase more equipment to remedy the problem, but they don’t need to invest in more equipment – they need to take stock of what they have, and use it more effectively.

At Versus, we help our clients tag each desired piece of equipment so that they can see exactly where each asset is on the floor, unit or facility. And with PAR Level Asset Management, facilities can set guidelines for how many of each equipment type should be in each unit.

With PAR level alerts, hospital staff can restock nursing units with equipment before they ever run low, and nurses can be assured that they’ll have access to the equipment they need when they need it, eliminating the need to hoard equipment – or spend more capital on purchasing more. No wait, no waste.

Making this kind of investment in your facility will pay dividends! See how one of our clients did it and saved $1 million in capital expenditures »

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