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Benefits of Instrument Tracking Software

Benefits of Instrument Tracking Software

Go beyond simply replacing paper documentation

Instrument tracking software has evolved over time, from early basic applications letting Technicians identify the sterile status of a set and its location, to the newer, more sophisticated programs that help Sterile Processing Department (SPD) professionals manage different aspects of their instrument processing workflow. With increased caseloads, more complex Instructions for Use, and a need to consistently train staff, today’s instrument tracking systems still help Technicians document sterilizer loads and print out barcodes, but now software can also help inform and improve the workflow in the SPDs.1

spm surgical asset tracking software

What is surgical instrument tracking software?

Surgical instrument tracking software helps SPDs manage, automate, and create digital records of the sterilization process. This lets departments identify the status of a set and its current location, document sterilizer loads, and print out barcodes during assembly providing easy scanning and tracing throughout the process.

But that only scratches the surface of surgical instrument tracking software's potential. Robust tracking software can provide everything from managing nearly every aspect of processing workflow to informing and improving a SPD's overall accuracy and efficiency.

For Managers and Technicians, a fully integrated surgical instrument tracking software can:

  • Assist department and staff to help conform to Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), and/or Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) industry standards
  • Help departments develop greater Joint Commission audit readiness
  • Support better resource allocation and management
  • Enhance existing quality assurance program
  • Provide greater insights into your department data with reporting and decision-support tools

How does instrument tracking software benefit the SPD?

benefits to instrument tracking software

From the conversion of paper documentation into a digital format, tracking software goes beyond locating instruments. It can track where they have been, who processed the load, while allowing departments to replace and digitize the binders and handwritten log forms.

Some examples include:

  • Sterilizer load builds (load contents)
  • The time a tray was decontaminated and assembled
  • Cycle data and results
  • Biological Indicator and Chemical Indicator results
  • When and how an endoscope was processed

While replacing paper documentation makes record keeping easier, instrument tracking software also helps ensure technicians complete the department's processes with consistency. Instrument tracking software can help guide technicians through processing steps and help record AAMI, AORN, and SGNA compliance through every step of the process using features like guided workflows.

These benefits go beyond just digitizing records by:

  • Documenting surgical tray assemblies in an on-screen count sheet
  • Providing tray information, including the primary sterilizer cycle and the total cost of the tray
  • Supplying on-screen resources like device instructions for use and guided step-by-step workflows
  • Helping to prioritize work based upon the needs of the surgical schedule instead of an outdated first-in first-out system
  • Displaying photos of surgical instruments in a specific set
  • Demonstrating thorough assembly process through video and/or presentations
  • Recording results of manual cleaning decontamination and sterility assurance via a barcode scan

Benefits Beyond the SPD

Sterile processing software graph

For Infection Prevention and Operating Room professionals, surgical instrument tracking connects to the SPD ensuring hospital policy and quality standards are consistently met. This provides visibility to ensure the correct instruments are delivered at the right time for procedures.

Your Technicians are the Stars!

Many of the same features of instrument tracking systems that help ensure correct instrument processing and collect documentation also help make your technicians more productive, accurate, and confident. Workflows, load processing data, and sterility assurance documentation provide all the information a technician needs at their fingertips to help improve overall productivity and accuracy.

As technicians perform their guided work and progress through the screens, they are creating sterility assurance documentation. As technicians build sterilizer loads, document loaner orders, and complete guided workflows, tracking systems capture who is doing the work, the steps completed, test results, and more, making the sterility assurance documentation process an integrated part of the workflow.

sterility assurance documentation

When a quality issue arises, the event is easily identified, including affected sets and information about potentially affected cases. These quality features allow for easy documentation and follow-up tasks for root cause investigations.

Other quality assurance features often include:

  • Staff competency, so only technicians who are trained can complete specific tasks
  • Configurable guided workflows to ensure consistent and conforming work is performed
  • Competency checklists for review of work and technician training
  • Documentation of a department's ambient temperature and humidity
  • Tracking cleaning verification test results

What Reporting can an Instrument Tracking System Provide?

Use data to unlock the potential of your SPD

Along with the quality of the department's processes and outcomes, instrument tracking systems can also help improve the SPD's overall efficiency and effectiveness. With the combination of basic tracking, the right technician doing the right task, and a view into every aspect of an instrument's journey, measurable productivity gains can be realized for your department, including:

  • Keeping up with surgical case scheduling demands via priority lists
  • Receiving alerts for expedited or priority cases
  • Maintaining efficient staff size and allocation
  • Ease of incorporating new, complex instrumentation and/or loaner trays
  • Preventive maintenance tracking and documentation along with reminder messages based on usage or time
  • Ensuring each case set is complete based on system build lists
  • Providing alerts for missing instruments and suggestions for substitute instruments

Better reporting, better decision making

SPD Technician

Sophisticated instrument tracking systems provide a configurable dashboard feature to allow quick, easy access to key performance indicators. Key performance indicators can help an SPD run more efficiently via reports that include:

  • Total sterilizer loads per day
  • Cost of reprocessing each tray
  • Total cost of cases and evidence for determining the appropriate device inventory
  • Productivity monitoring to help identify areas where staff may need additional training
  • Productivity reports to help identify and schedule staff where they are needed most
  • Root cause investigation reports
  • Audit reports that provide immediate indications of overall compliance for internal or Joint Commission audits
sterile processing software and system reporting graph

Sterile Processing Department information system can support much more than basic track and trace functions. The additional features can provide the information to help optimize reprocessing consistency, quality, productivity, and compliance. As caseloads grow, reporting identifies and justifies growth and headcount needs for the SPD.

Explore Sterile Processing Microsystems (SPM) Software and learn how an instrument tracking software can transform instrument reprocessing from reactive to proactive with insights from one of the most sophisticated surgical instrument tracking tools on the market.

Explore STERIS SPM Instrument Tracking Software

1https://www.hpnonline.com/continuing-education/steris/article/21133659/sterile-processing-information-systems-help-spds-shine

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