Healthcare Going Lean Series – How to Curb Your Rentals

By Joanna Wyganowska, Lean Healthcare Green Belt

The process of going ‘lean’ in healthcare involves looking at each step in the process of delivering patient care to identify and eliminate all possible non-value added activities (waste) so valuable resources are focused on patient care. For instance, let’s evaluate the use of rental equipment by a hospital. 

Here are examples of the types of questions to ask in order to identify potential areas of waste:

  • What equipment really needs to be rented to meet hospital and patient needs?
    How do we check if we have our own equipment available for use?

  • Is rented equipment being used efficiently?
    Do we even know if it is being used once it reaches our hospital?

  • Is rental equipment being returned at the end of its intended use to ensure the end of rental charges?
    And, what needs to happen in order to trigger the return?

These questions may seem trivial, but many hospitals lack the tools to even provide rudimentary answers. Ineffective management of rental equipment often leads to hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoidable expense.

One of the most effective manners in which you can improve rental operations is by managing them through the use of a Real-Time Locating System (RTLS). With RTLS, you can easily differentiate rental equipment from hospital-owned assets, thereby promoting the use of hospital-owned equipment first – thus minimizing rental expenses.

This is all possible because a real-time location system automatically, consistently and constantly provides you with information about your equipment, rented or not. Information such as the location, and the status (ie: available, in-use, dirty) and can automatically provide utilization data so that determination can be made as to optimal PAR levels. With all of that, hospitals can quickly become LEAN in their rental management initiatives.

To take this process further, it is common to have the RTLS system automatically generate an alert when a patient associated with a piece of rental equipment is discharged, notifying the proper individual to retrieve the device, take it out of service, and return it as appropriate to finalize the billing of rental fees. More than one CFO has been thrilled to end the all common occurrence of lost rental equipment racking up months of unnecessary charges.

Examples like this, taking into account only one single specific value definition, demonstrate how an RTLS investment can quickly pay dividends through a very quantifiable ROI. We commonly see clients cut their rental costs by more than 75%. That’s significant in anyone’s books.

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