Frost & Sullivan Market Insight   Published: 16 Oct 2009
Healthcare Asset Management Systems - Awaiting Complete Acceptance
Date Published: 16 Oct 2009

By Jayapradha T E, Healthcare IT Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan

An Introduction to Asset Management System

Hospital IT systems have been an integral part of healthcare for the past few years and are expected to witness a substantial growth in the future. There was a distinguished rise in the entry of global participants into the European healthcare market. This situation demanded the healthcare IT vendors to develop solutions which can be integrated easily and provide a better efficiency and care. The efficiency of a healthcare organization largely depends on its ability to know where things are. Today with the increase in technology and equipments, hospitals often end up under-utilizing or over-inventory of assets, as they find it difficult identify and locate their own assets. The technologies that help organizations to keep a track of their valuable assets are slowly pervading in the healthcare industry. Asset management is the complete management of the physical assets within a hospital including the small and large mobile, expensive and sophisticated pieces of equipments such as infusion pumps, cardiac monitors, monitoring equipments, ventilators, Gurneys and wheelchairs. Wi-Fi (Wireless fidelity) and active RFID (radio frequency identification) are the two major technologies that are dominant within the asset management systems market. The two technologies are ideally used in a Real Time Location Systems. They are also combined with other wireless technologies such as infrared (IR), ultra-wideband (UWB) for different purpose.

Optimal Care and Improved Efficiency

The interoperability between the various departments has a very important role to play in the speed of treatment provided to the patients. All the enterprise solutions require a seamless information flow between the various specialties which can be accessed by the concerned health professionals. Hospital IT solutions provide quality healthcare that helps to in providing optimal care and improve effeciency. Healthcare asset management systems totally assist in overcoming the scarce resources that include the time available to the healthcare providers. These solutions perform with high variability and ardently support a cost-benefit value proposition.

Benefits of Healthcare Asset Management Systems: An Overview

Non-Centralized Decision Making as a Challenge

Certain stand-alone factors which influence the healthcare asset management systems market include the challenge to support data and imaging systems, integrated voice with various hardware and software devices, compliance with the healthcare standards, 24x7 accurate accesses to hardware and software applications and competition from healthcare professionals and consumer business. It is important for the vendors to note that the technology purchasing decisions in hospitals are not centralized. It is essential to convince every department head of each hospital for the deployment of RTLS. This factor has given rise to a number of resellers who partner with the large technology providers and address the sales scalability issue. Most of the vendors have asset management only as a part of their other solutions and do not provide it as an exclusive system. The hospitals get the asset management systems service as a part of the large IT-solution project. Since the market for asset management is not matured in Europe, there are not many vendors in the market and not much competition exists. With global economic crunch, the IT investments are having an effect in healthcare. Companies are becoming cautious in investing in new technologies. This is mostly witnessed by the large global vendors who do not take a risk in experimenting with a new technology in a new market. But the small local players are not being stopped by this scenario in the case of AM.

Active/ Passive Technologies Offering a Wealth of Potential

When viewing the total possibilities for active and passive location technologies in the care delivery organization, a prism opens to endless solutions. Active and passive technologies offer a wealth of potential for process and care improvements in such areas as blood banking, equipment tracking, revenue capture, authentication and verification, automatic inventory management, space utilization, point of care information capture and tracking, and many others. The market has begun to depict asset tracking as a significant leader, with patient tracking close behind. The trend remains sustainable and the combinations of active and passive location technologies are gaining interests among the healthcare organizations for asset tracking. Within the next few years RTLS has the potential to open further to enterprise visibility solutions and powerful applications that harness and link into the hospital information system. In spite of the high initial investment involved in laying down the infrastructure for Wi-Fi based asset management system, the guarantee of better battery life and low cost investment in all future Wi-Fi based solution by leveraging the existing infrastructure is driving the market for Wi-Fi based asset management systems in par with the RFID based asset management systems.

Healthcare Asset Management Systems: An Open Market

The healthcare asset management market for providers remains an open market for existing and new entrant technology companies. The healthcare asset management companies operate on various pricing models, from licensing to number of items tracked, and the majority of companies have not reached bottom line profitability. This can be attributed to several characteristics normally associated with new industries, but is largely a result of providers piloting the technology and therefore slow to commit to larger contracts that will accelerate vendor profitability. As the past installations have proved to be highly successful, the provider market is gradually shifting its view and beginning to implement enterprise-wide tracking and management solutions. Companies supplying reliable and accurate solutions will be positioned to capture these future contracts. In addition, vendors must prove that their technology is capable of dramatically improving the workflow environment, which is accomplished through sound systems integration and superior technology.