NOW READING: Stories from the Field: Hunting for ‘Zebras’

In medical school, many doctors are told “When you hear hoof beats, think horses—not zebras.” The idea is that when making a diagnosis, physicians should focus on the most likely possibility. For the most part, its sage advice whether practicing medicine or making a variety of other decisions.

But as patients with rare diseases and conditions would likely tell you, sometimes “hoof beat” symptoms really ARE the sign of a “zebra.”

The same holds true when managing assets. It’s not only common but wise to operate under some fundamental core assumptions about where assets should be. However, those assumptions may not cover every possible scenario. That’s where automated, RTLS-enabled asset tracking and management can help. Consider two recent “zebra” stories from one of our Solution Engineers, Bob Metzler.

At a customer location, a number of pumps—each valued at nearly $6,000—had gone missing. The hospital’s MobileView platform was showing their location, but Logistics personnel were insisting the system had to be wrong. Why? Because the location displayed was a closed wing, and “pumps NEVER go up there.” Fast forward a half day, when the team finally found someone with keys to the closed wing. Sure enough, the eight assets were within 3 meters of the location that MobileView had been displaying. The “zebra” in this case? Someone had stashed the pumps there for monthly training but had neglected to inform Logistics.

The second story stems from a pump that kept going in and out of sight in MobileView. It seemed to be floor hopping wildly and even bouncing between buildings across campus! The solution engineer took a recording. Based on those findings, he advised the Logistics personnel that the pump was in someone’s car. Again, the customer insisted this was impossible. Upon further urging, the customer checked and sure enough, the “zebra” was indeed in a vehicle. Asset found. Problem solved.

Though unusual, these incidents illustrate the power of RTLS-enabled asset management—and represent just the beginning of the value hospitals can realize. An automated visibility platform can help you find and manage assets more effectively, whether they’re right where they should be or have been placed outside the usual boundaries. And having visibility to asset location is truly just the beginning. For a look at a hospital that is leveraging its RTLS investment to revolutionize PAR level management, read up on Florida Hospital’s successes.