Hospitals today face a daunting challenge. They must compete with other hospitals in their market on several fronts. Yes, you read that correctly. The word I used was "compete" because a hospital is a business. Hospital leadership must plan and execute a budget. They must persuade the best medical and administrative professional talent to work for their hospital instead of the hospital across town. And when people in their community become sick, hospital leaders must entice them to seek medical care in their facility, from their staff.
Hospital leaders are surrounded. How do they fight their way out?
By designing Lean concepts into the point-of-care environment.
Let's start with a generic foundation. Lean design in healthcare provides:
- what is needed,
- when it is needed,
- in the amount needed,
- meeting the exact customer demand.
The title of "customer" encapsulates the patient, the hospital staff member, and even the various surveyors who evaluate the hospital for healthcare accreditation, building codes, Occupational Health and Safety requirements, and disability codes, to name just a few.
Hospital leadership can serve each of these customers through effective equipment management solutions. Remember, one of the few ways in which hospitals differ from hotels is that hospitals are filled with "stuff." Installing equipment rail on the walls of exam rooms, patient rooms, and Emergency Department triage, treatment, and trauma rooms helps improve the efficiency of the staff, the ergonomic environment for the staff, and impresses upon the staff, patient, and regulatory evaluator's such as JCAHO that the hospital is organized.
Equipment rail is usually installed horizontally, sometimes at two or three elevations on the wall, and typically spans anywhere from 4' to 6' wide. The rail can be specified with universal, quick-release adapter brackets that attach to the rail on one side, and to the back of a piece of equipment on the other side.
For example, an exam room may have two 4' wide elevations of equipment rail to hold the sharps container, paper towel holder, sani-wipes, hand sanitizer, diagnostic kits including ophthalmoscopes, otoscopes, wall aneroid, BP management kits, etc.
Time-Saver:You can install the rail, attach the brackets to the backs of these supplies, and then let the staff that will be working in that room place the equipment wherever they want it along the rails. The staff becomes empowered to set their equipment wherever they believe it will be most efficient and comfortable for them to use. And if they find the initial set-up doesn't work for them, they can change it around.
Cost-Saver:Want to relocate the glove box holder? You can do it in five seconds. No holes in the walls to re-patch and paint. The brackets simply snap off from the rail, and the staff places that piece of equipment where they want on the rail in a new location. No mess, no carpenter, no painter. No exam room or in-patient room shut-down. Revenue continues.
More Cost-Savings:Managing your supplies with baskets and containers mounted on the equipment rail prevents staff from hoarding, or over-supplying, a given room. This needs to be avoided because as infection prevention efforts become more stringent, more rooms will be required to undergo a "terminal clean". Terminal cleaning methods vary slightly from facility to facility, but the but the basic foundations to this process include:
- removing every detachable piece of equipment or supply from the room
- cleaning the air ducts (HVAC) and the lighting
- disinfecting and sanitizing everything remaining in the room
- disinfecting and sanitizing each piece of equipment and supply that is returned to the room
This last bullet point is the key to cost-savings. Lean healthcare, supported by the equipment rail storage capability, ensures that only the proper amount of supplies are stocked in the room. Therefore, if there are supplies in the room that cannot be sanitized or disinfected due to the way they are packaged, they must be disposed. When every penny counts, supplies wasted through soiled disposal must be kept to a minimum.
Equipment rail gives hospital leaders the power to incorporate Lean design in their facility. Medical supplies and equipment are mounted in the right place, in the right amount, for the exact patient need.