Endoscope tracking systems are “clipboard killers” – or at least, that’s how Jacob Long, CCSVP, director of sales engineering at Censis, prefers to reference them. In his role, Long has seen the benefits of switching from bins full of paper records to electronic documentation play out at hundreds of healthcare facilities across the country.
But when it comes to an endoscope reprocessing log, improved documentation is far from the only thing facilities have to gain from an endoscope tracking system.
Here are six ways sterile processing and endoscopy departments and facilities can enhance proper endoscope reprocessing workflow efficiency and inventory management with an endoscope tracking system.
1. Consolidate documentation
Endoscope reprocessing technicians can’t simply document that the scope was cleaned correctly and call it a day. Sterile processing departments also need to document how often they’re replacing the filters on their reprocessing machines, how frequently they’re flushing water lines, and when and why scopes left the facility for maintenance.
All of this documentation is mandated or required, typically by the manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU) for those machines and scopes. While you may be able to manage all this documentation on paper, it’s another thing to be able to store and easily retrieve it, said Long.
“Everyone benefits from the capability to consolidate digitally and remove all the headaches with paper management,” said Long. “From a manager’s point of view, it’s a lot easier to go in and audit. From an end user’s experience, it could mean having 10 less clipboards they have to sign and document the time and date on every day.”
2. Provide on-the-job training
Gone are the days of plastering 30 IFUs all over the walls of your department. With an endoscope tracking system, endoscope reprocessing technicians have constant access to IFUs and other pertinent information about a device throughout the entire reprocessing cycle. They can even access pictures and videos to help ensure they’re properly reprocessing each scope model.
Having this information readily available empowers technicians to do their job with confidence and helps new staff more quickly (and independently) learn the ropes.
3. Help ensure reprocessing is done safely and correctly
Endoscope tracking systems can alert technicians if a step is missed and prevent them from moving on until that step is complete. This reduces the risk of errors and helps technicians keep track of the process at all stages to ensure patient safety.
“A lot of people underestimate how hard it is to reprocess a scope. It’s helpful to have all the steps you need outlined on the same screen where you’re documenting your actions,” said Long. “It gives techs the comfort of having what they need when they need it.”
4. Enable hands-free documentation
Endoscopes can be large and long, which often presents a challenge for the reprocessing technician to hold the scope, chemicals and devices – all while documenting what they’re doing.
Censis offers a unique software-hardware bundle for ScopeTrac Advanced that eliminates the need for a technician to touch a mouse, keyboard or computer screen during documentation. Instead, they can login using an RFID waterproof bracelet and use a wireless foot pedal to click through each step. The capability to document hands-free can save techs time during reprocessing since they won’t have to juggle equipment and computer tasks.
5. Make inspections a lot easier
When your documentation exists on paper, inspections from regulatory bodies like The Joint Commission often require the retrieval of specific logs that may be tucked away in an offsite warehouse. Retrieving the required documents often induces unnecessary costs and time as personnel are sent on a scavenger hunt.
“It’s a lot easier having an electronic solution because you can just pull up a report, see all the requested data in one spot and check all the boxes without having to bounce back and forth between a bunch of clipboards or binders,” said Long. The same is true with internal audits, reporting and recalls.
6. Identify trends
Pulling records digitally can help you identify issues in your workflow by allowing you to visualize outliers and trends via specific reports. If endoscope-related infections were occurring at your facility, you could use the system to help pinpoint if they have anything in common. For example, perhaps technicians are having trouble with a particular scope model or problems are arising during a particular shift.
If you have scopes that keep breaking and are sent away for maintenance, you can use this visibility to uncover any mishandling during the reprocessing loop. Maybe there’s a specific doctor who is too rough with their scopes, for instance. Being able to identify the cause could ultimately save your facility tens of thousands of dollars in avoided repair costs.
While the benefits of endoscope tracking systems are plentiful for sterile processing departments, it’s important to note they also benefit patients.
“The patient is what matters here,” said Long. “To me, if you can stop just one infection, then the system pays for itself.”