Sep 3, 2020 | Sterile Processing Best Practice

What Will Tracking Instruments Look Like in the Future?

Surgical instrument tracking has changed drastically throughout the decades, and it will continue to evolve. We’ll see changes not only in the process but also in the tools used to make those processes run smoothly. So, what will tracking instruments look like in the future?

From our years of providing innovative technology to 1,200+ facilities across the United States to enable more efficient, transparent, and compliant surgical instrument tracking, we’ve got a substantiated guess.

More automation

Automated instrument tracking solves a myriad of problems that healthcare teams encounter daily. It not only eliminates the time-intensive task of managing endless paper records by way of an electronic database, but it also saves the entire Perioperative loop team's valuable time by streamlining processes and guiding technicians every step of the way from decontamination through case cart assembly. But instrument tracking doesn’t stop at case cart assembly. Instrument accountability pre- and post-operation are imperative to patient safety.

For example, learning the proper cleaning procedure and assembly for each instrument and tray in your facility is a lot for a new hire. But, with the help of automated surgical instrument tracking, that new hire can be guided through the process for each asset without needing the constant help of a supervisor or manager.

More error prevention

With the help of automation, SPD technicians can also get an extra check on every step they complete. When an instrument is scanned to the wrong tray, those systems can create an alert that requires the technician to fix the error before moving forward. This prevents trays from showing up to the OR with the wrong instruments in them, possibly resulting in a surgery delay that puts a patient at risk. Automation can also prevent or alert technicians on errors in decontamination, sterilization, and more, that could result in costly and dangerous mistakes if left unnoticed.

More visibility across the facility

With any kind of digital record-keeping comes the opportunity to allow for easier and deeper visibility to key stakeholders. When it comes to tracking instruments with an automated electronic system, SPD teams can provide visibility of instrument and tray status to their OR teams to keep them up to date, in real-time. These systems often also integrate with the OR scheduler to give visibility back to the SPD, also in real-time, to prevent the SPD team from being surprised or bogged down by last-minute needs due to surgery schedule changes.

Utilizing an OR Scheduler with an electronic tracking solution helps technicians make patient-centric decisions regarding reprocessing surgical assets based on a case schedule as opposed to a “first in / first out” workflow.

More traceability

Another benefit of an automated solution is that it has the potential to track everything down to the instrument level. With this benefit, SPD and OR teams can tie each instrument to each tray over the life of the inventory for complete patient traceability. This provides increased protection for the patient from any infection occurring during treatment while also giving facilities peace of mind should a lawsuit ever arise; they can quickly identify or rule out sources of infection.

The future of your surgical instrument tracking

Overall, surgical instrument tracking of the future will continue to do what it’s always done: look out for the patient while streamlining processes for teams throughout the facility.

As you consider your own instrument tracking, ask yourself: are you able to provide the level of traceability, visibility, and error prevention through the help of time-saving automation as outlined above? If not, perhaps it’s time to consider a new tool.

CensiTrac, our surgical instrument tracking solution, provides all of these benefits and more. You can even see how CensiTrac works in every area of your department from decontamination through the operating room. If it’s a solution you could see in your facility, request more information and one of our team members will be in touch soon!