When you combine the benefits of electronic health recordkeeping with the recent FDA Unique Device Identifier (UDI) initiative, it is clear that the need for Central Sterile Processing Departments (CSSDs) to move to an automated instrument and device management is fast approaching. You might be wondering, "How do I prepare, and what do I need to know for a successful transition?"

In addition to budgeting for a system, the most critical step in getting ready for automation involves count sheet data preparation.

In order to transition from a manual system to an automated asset management solution, a facility’s count sheet data will need to be incorporated into the new system. This is usually accomplished through a data import process. To do this, the count sheet information must be in a standard electronic format. If your data is not in an electronic format, converting the data can be as simple as inputting key data elements into an Excel spreadsheet. The caveat is that the process can be very time-consuming, depending on the amount of data you have. As you start converting your data, it’s important to consider which data points you need to include. Examples of the type of data points normally included in a data import are listed below.

  • Container name
  • Product name (description)
  • Quantity
Highly Recommended
  • Sterilization method
  • Procedure
  • Catalog number
  • Supplier
  • Placement
  • Critical items
  • Whether or not substitutions are allowed
  • Bio test required (Y/N)
  • Assembly comments
  • Decontamination comments
  • Physician
  • Home location

There are typically three options for converting data to an electronic format:

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Hire a consultant
  3. Pay the solution vendor

When it comes to data conversion, the old adage rings true; you can do it fast, you can do it well, or you can do it cheaply: pick any two, but you can’t have all three. Being aware of this on the front end is important, because getting an early start (even before you select a vendor) can mean getting a high-quality, accurate data set at a lower cost less than if you wait to accomplish this goal at the last minute. Don’t be misled by vendors that say that there is no charge for converting count sheets to an electronic format. This is a time-consuming task, and the cost is factored in somewhere, even if it is not clearly specified in a quote or proposal. If you find yourself in a position of only having scanned or hard copies of your count sheets, don’t panic. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin the process:

  • Start early – don’t wait until you sign a contract with a vendor to begin getting your data into a spreadsheet format.
  • If possible, split the workload among multiple reliable and well-coached staff members.
  • Utilize a count sheet data template from a solution vendor (you shouldn’t encounter an extra charge for using this).

Preparing for automated instrument and device management is no easy feat. For more suggestions on how to make your process efficient, download our free eBook Transitioning from a Manual Process to Automated Instrument Management, to see if you’re on track for success.

Planning for Automation

Why You Need Automation

Your patient safety and workflow effectiveness depend on it.