Tracking Technology Has Benefits for Vital Medical Equipment
Even without the coronavirus many countries and medical facilities experienced equipment shortages. Today these shortages are incredibly relevant, every piece of equipment is important, and ventilators are beyond critical.
Using technology to track and manage the location of medical equipment can ensure that every device is allocated and utilised to its maximum effect and that medical equipment users or engineers don’t have to waste time locating devices or parts.
GPS and assisted GPS tracking devices can monitor the location of vital parts, even before manufacture, as well as fully assembled equipment. Such technology is relevant to tracking parts through their supply chain from multiple suppliers to a manufacturing or assembly facility. Tracking devices can be small and relatively inexpensive so can be used to track entire parts inventories, making managing components and bringing them together into a final product easier and faster.
Once medical equipment, like a ventilator, is ready to ship, GPS tracking can oversee the entire journey ensuring travel directly and safely to where needed most.
When a ventilator, or other machine, arrives at its destination it can be tracked around a hospital or medical facility and located quickly. GPS tracking of ventilator machines and the related tracking software, once configured, will issue alerts if a piece of equipment leaves a desired location or leaves a facility without authorization.
The UK is expected to need an extra 20,000 ventilators to cope with the coronavirus. In a wartime like rally, manufacturers are sharing ventilator making instructions and ramping up production to make and deliver as many ventilators as possible.
Let’s look a little more closely at the features and benefits of GPS tracking for ventilators and other vital medical equipment as well as for the parts involved in their manufacture.
How does GPS equipment tracking work?
GPS tracking technology has a number of elements which when combined provide enhanced and real time tracking and even proximity and positioning within buildings.
GPS tracking provides outdoor tracking whilst Wi-Fi based tracking works indoors and outdoors, as does cell ID tracking. The combination of GPS, WiFi, and Cell ID produces assisted GPS or enhanced tracking. Bluetooth can then also provide the proximity tracking or positioning within structure or facilities.
Tracking devices are small and pre-programmed, they simply need to be switched on and allowed to pick up GPS satellites. The MyTrackerPlus, for example, is supplied connected to its server. Once a tracking device is switched on a user can login to a GPS tracking dashboard to see the device will be already sending back its coordinates.
Trackers can be configured with how often they should send back location information and when alert notifications should be issued. A device’s location history can also be viewed via a web-based dashboard and for the MyTrackerPlus, there is a mobile device application. Tracker alerts can be sent via email or SMS to ensure a user is fully informed without needing to constantly login.
For those using multiple devices, GPS tracking software can display the location of every tracking device. This means every piece of important equipment or part can be mapped and tracked in real time and at the same time. Within tracking software, each device, consignment or part can have its own name or identity number, and these can correspond with parts or equipment inventories.
What are the benefits of GPS tracking of ventilators?
GPS equipment tracking can go right back to raw components to ensure that manufacturers have the parts they need. Where multiple factories produce the same equipment, for example, GPS tracking and inventory software for resource and manufacture planning can identify where surplus components lie and where necessary they can be re-routed to other makers that need them.
For equipment engineers, the tracking of replacement parts could mean repair or service can be completed in a single visit, faster and with more transparency to the equipment owner. For parts and engineers already within a facility, a part or machine’s location can be identified for quicker resolution and much less physical searching and telephone chasing by personnel already under pressure.
If we take ventilators again as a very relevant example of medical equipment tracking, universal GPS tracking can be combined with coronavirus infection mapping to ensure that new ventilators or surplus ventilators elsewhere could, in theory, be channelled where they are needed most. This can be done on a regional, national or even global basis with the right coordination.
GPS equipment tracking means that exact delivery timings can be predicted, and deliveries tracked to the metre and minute, eliminating the need for recipients to chase for estimated arrival times. Missing or stolen deliveries can be quickly located. For even greater equipment management, location APIs can be integrated with 3rd party software combining data and capabilities.
Medical equipment is vital and one of the most important and relevant use cases for GPS tracking which can create efficiencies in manufacture and optimise equipment use once within the healthcare system.
One of the things that gets my new customers excited — especially the ones who have never seen GPS tracking for real as opposed to seeing it in a James Bond movie — is when I tell them they will be able to follow it being delivered to them in realtime.