Following the pandemic, the healthcare industry continues to grow and change. Now, medical care is “becoming patient-centric, virtual, ambulatory, and available at home.” Medical fleets are responsible for everything from delivering medical supplies to transferring patients to healthcare facilities or appointments.
As a fleet manager, you have an important role to play in ensuring patients receive timely, reliable healthcare services. But there are several obstacles to navigate, including vehicle theft, patient safety concerns, and maintaining aging vehicles. To address these concerns, follow these three best practices:
1. Secure Keys
Security is a top concern for medical fleets. Theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle can cause significant financial losses, disrupt operations, and compromise patient care. In California, for example, staff at a nonprofit for low-income cancer patients were devastated when someone stole a bus from the organization’s parking lot. After the theft, the nonprofit was left with only enough supplies for five patients instead of 14, and it was forced to cancel a planned event.
Theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle can cause significant financial losses, disrupt operations, and compromise patient care.
Unfortunately, vehicle theft isn’t rare in the medical field. One of the most common examples is ambulance theft, with one or two being stolen across the U.S. each week. These thefts not only endanger the public — as stolen ambulances are often involved in police pursuits — but also prevent patients from receiving critical care.
To control access to vehicles, it’s important to have clear fleet policies that include not leaving keys in vehicles and keeping doors locked at all times. In addition, you must secure vehicle keys when they’re not in use. Electronic key control systems enhance fleet security by securing keys inside solid steel drawers or wall-mounted panels. Only authorized personnel can access keys, minimizing the risk of theft and other unauthorized activity.
2. Track Driver Activity and Key Use
Driver safety is critical to helping patients feel safe and ensuring operations run smoothly. With electronic key control systems, you’re also able to assign keys to drivers and restrict their system access to certain time frames.
Technology like GPS tracking and dash cams can track each driver’s activity, which helps you identify any undesirable driving habits.
By seeing when they checked out and returned a vehicle key and observing their driving habits, you can hold drivers accountable and protect patients. If a patient accuses a driver of misconduct, the audit trail can help law enforcement and the medical facility’s management investigate the issue by showing who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged incident.
3. Use Telematics and Key Control Systems to Keep Maintenance on Track
Between the chip shortage and inflation, it’s difficult and costly to replace aging vehicles. As a result, you might be forced to extend the life of existing vehicles. For example, an emergency medical services department in Texas kept some of its older ambulances in use for two years past the typical replacement window.
When you’re trying to maximize the useful life of your vehicles, missing preventive maintenance is detrimental. You risk having to make pricey emergency repairs — or worse, preventing patients from getting timely care. If your fleet is equipped with telematics, you’ll be able to track odometer readings, fuel consumptions, and diagnostic trouble codes to help you see what maintenance each vehicle requires.
But if you’re looking to increase efficiency or if your fleet doesn’t use telematics, electronic key control systems can help you keep your maintenance schedules on track. You can prompt employees to input mileage every time they return a key. Daily reports can then be used to find discrepancies and prevent overuse. When a vehicle is due for maintenance, you can reserve the key in the system to remove it from rotation.
To deliver reliable, timely care, you must protect and optimize your fleet. With the help of electronic key control, you can secure vehicle keys, hold drivers accountable, and streamline vehicle maintenance. Empower your organization to provide the patient-centric healthcare services the industry is moving toward.