RTLS tech helps McLaren Health end the IV pump wars

Nurses used to hide infusion devices to ensure they could get one when needed.

Because nurses at McLaren Health in mid-Michigan never knew if they would find an IV pump when needed, they started hoarding cleaned and unused pumps in case they need one.

McLaren for several years wanted to buy a real-time location system, known as RTLS, to improve patient flow at the 365-bed hospital. The time came to replace 711 pumps and clinical staff asked for 1,100 pumps. Instead of buying the pumps, McLaren used RTLS for another purpose, to manage the distribution of pumps, saving $1 million even after the RTLS investment.

Now, the organization also uses RTLS to manage pumps through a periodic replenishment process so clinicians always have a pump available, even though there now are 300 fewer pumps being used.

Pump vendor B. Braun and RTLS vendor Versus worked to develop a dashboard to show nurses if a pump is in use and where to find an unused one, says Dave Dickey, vice president of clinical engineering, who spoke at the HIMSS18 conference.

Knowing where all pumps are and their readiness also helps McLaren Health move assets around during peak times.

But nurses still aren’t fully confident of the new processes, and Dickey is still trying to convince them to move unused pumps out of the rooms so they are available elsewhere, but old habits die hard. “They are slowly learning to trust the system so they can give up an unused pump without fear that they won’t get one,” he says.

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