Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Billings Clinics implements location and asset management

Steve Rogerson
March 28, 2017

Billings Clinic in Montana has implemented an asset management and real-time location system to manage its fleet of mobile medical equipment.
Michigan-based Versus Technology’s Advantages asset management and the V-Net wifi real-time locating system (RTLS) have been installed in the 304-bed hospital in Billings, Montana, which spans a 56-acre campus and four stories.
This layout complicates keeping track of the hundreds of pumps, beds, lifts, wheelchairs and other assets that move about the facility every day. The biomedical department, clinicians and caregivers spent valuable time searching for equipment, time that could have been spent in direct patient care, efficient asset maintenance or other value-added tasks.
Billings Clinic found the answer from Beacon Communications, a regional systems integrator in Colorado. Beacon had already installed the Versus RTLS to automate the hospital’s Rauland R5 nurse call system, and encouraged Billings Clinic to expand on the same infra-red sensory network, augmented with wifi, to track assets. By leveraging two existing systems, the hospital reduced the costs normally associated with RTLS installations, while ensuring facility-wide coverage.
“The combination of Versus’ IR network with our Cisco wifi gives us campus-wide visibility into our asset locations in one software view,” said Tim Killmer, information systems analyst at Billings Clinic. “Where we have IR sensors in our inpatient clinical areas, we can tell precisely and reliably where an asset is, down to the room. In ancillary areas without sensors, Versus conveys the general location as determined by our existing wifi access points. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
With the precision provided by the V-Direct infra-red sensory network, the hospital can not only locate equipment, it also manages periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) levels on 12 units. The ICU, for example, determined its PAR level as ten IV pumps. When the number drops below that level, the Advantages asset management software sends an alert that replenishment is needed, helping to ensure clinicians always have pumps available for patient care.
Billings Clinic also has access to RTLS data through Versus Reports Plus Analytics, software that details asset use, movement history and census counts.
“Reports Plus Analytics has given me the tools to respond to clinical leadership’s requests for information on their assets and staff,” Killmer said. “Whether they are wondering where equipment has disappeared to or where their staff was during an incident, I can provide the information they need, or even schedule a report to email them weekly.”
Use reports and PAR-level asset management require highly accurate location data as well as effective software and analytics. In a 2016 report from the healthcare research firm KLAS, Versus received the highest rating among vendors that provide both hardware and software. Versus also received the highest rating for location accuracy, as well as for many other categories.
Midmark acquired Versus Technology in May 2016, creating a combination of clinical workflow products that encompass clinical workflow services, RTLS technology, medical equipment, diagnostic devices and design assistance for improved efficiency within health systems.