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Promoting Clean Data & Connectivity in your SPD

Information Technology in today’s healthcare world

Software systems can offer so many possibilities and resources to almost any department located inside of a healthcare facility. With today’s vast world of technology it can be difficult to implement new data systems, without understanding the benefits. In the world of sterile processing, we know this dynamic and fast paced unit requires a lot of data to perform and relies heavily on information sharing to successfully complete the duties required. Many systems available today can help CSSD professionals ensure their workflow is of top quality, efficient and error free. Any CSSD should be provided with detailed insights regarding surgical instrument tracking software and other tools available within their organization that can help gain improve the processes they are a part of. Having a complete understanding of what is available will allow any them to complete their tasks more proficiently, monitor processes effectively and overcome barriers quickly. These systems can also help leaders forecast future events helping to prevent patient risks and poor outcomes by collecting data and tracking progress in real time. Many systems available to healthcare facilities can include a type of connectivity, allowing the programs to communicate. This is extremely beneficial for operating room personnel, materials management and central sterile staff because they depend on these systems heavily, as do our physicians and surgeons.

What does it mean to have clean data?

Regardless of the program you have in place, if the data, media and information inside the system being provided to the workers isn't clean, it might be telling the "wrong story". I am going to try to define clean data in the context of sterile processing; all information being utilized to support operations in any program should be accurate, updated, and managed by dedicated personnel, in order to provide real time info that supports effective and efficient processes.


If your department is using an instrument tracking software program but the media and instrument inventory is outdated, or inaccurate your team could be making errors that are not their fault but based on what is being provide to them, this leads to quality defects rising, versus decreasing. The information should be guiding each team member with easy to use and easy to read instrument information as well critical processing steps. The information in any system is only as good as its accuracy, here are some examples of CSSD clean data requirements;

  • Count sheets with proper naming nomenclature and quantities
  • Media images that provide real instrument attributes
  • Reports from ITS that are customizable and easy to create
  • Preference cards with accurate set names and quantities that are equal to those found in the ITS
  • Equipment and machine numbers or names that match across all methods of tracking
  • Storage shelving naming systems that are clearly understood by both the OR and SPD
  • Sterilization records and standardized methods for extracting compliance reports around documentation including audits
  • Barcodes and tracking methods in line with the workflow that department is using



Just because the systems communicate doesn't necessarily mean they are speaking the same language. If the nomenclature isn't aligned between the ITS, patient record programs, and equipment connectivity systems, failures will arise and often times, too late. Making sure your data is clean before generating reports, is a critical step in the auditing process, especially if you have a high cost associated with your software. System compliance relies on the input of accurate information from all users, and having a standardized method in managing will help end users utilize reports and analytics to help identify quality defects, monitor productivity, and track inventory. The more with access to make changes, the more opportunity you have for increased input errors.

If one type of nomenclature in one CS system provides information for the technicians that is easy to understand but may not be exactly the way the OR communicates, it may cause interference. For example; you may have three different types a set within your inventory, 1 that is the disposable kit comprised of pieces, 1 that is the rigid scope and another that has the combination of instruments, but the preference card requests only one standard name. This could cause a lack of inventory being picked, or delay in case when items are missing. This rationale is precisely the same for surgical instrument naming.


Connectivity and Communication

Many tracking systems offer platforms that will interface or “connect” with other neighboring systems. This is extremely beneficial for perioperative healthcare workers and CS professionals because they depend on these systems heavily to tell them what to do and what is happening in their departments. But one thing that goes unrecognized until it’s too late is just because the systems link up and communicate doesn’t necessarily mean they are functioning properly. Making sure that you have a team reviewing the information before basing decision on the data collected, Is a key step in ensuring accuracy. Reports can be built and analytics can be used to make decisions that support the outcomes of the department, such as instrument or equipment purchasing, instrument repair needs, equipment maintenance programs, training and education reports, quality defects, productivity and even staffing. Making sure to utilize system and all its features, while educating your team on the benefits of clean data and connectivity can be a huge contributor to your departments long term success.


Author: Randalyn Walters, Clinical Education Manager at Belimed