Narayanan Raghavan, CEO, Rent-a-Towel draws on his vast experience to give readers a step-by-step breakdown of the rental linen cycle, how it can be modified for healthcare customers, and why hospitals should opt for it over other linen management models.
It is most important for healthcare linen to be handled safely during this pandemic, for the wellbeing of patients and healthcare personnel. Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can cause risky situations through infected linen, and need to be controlled. Rental linen enabled with RFID technology for monitoring and controlling the movement of linen is the best solution for today’s scenario. This gives peace of mind to healthcare service providers and they can rest assured about the hygiene and freshness of the linen to be supplied. As the linen rental service provider takes control of the inventory, wash process and availability of linen at the healthcare facilities at all times, the pain of managing linen is reduced.
Specifications of healthcare linen
We provide bedsheets, bath towels, pillows etc on a daily basis. We take care of the linen and make sure that a sufficient quantity is available for each patient at all times.
We use Dr. LinenTM, which has a unique moisture management capability. This has been developed using TENCEL™ branded fibres, which are manufactured sustainably using an award-winning closed loop production process, and are unfavourable for bacterial growth. The Dr. LinenTM range increases product durability over repeated use, while retaining a natural resistance to bacteria, unlike a standard chemical coating-based protection.
We also have a Covid Free Pillow with patented Pneumapure Filter technology which protects against ingress of viruses, bacteria, fungi etc This product has been extensively used in the healthcare industry and is now being taken up by hotels too. These pillows do not require any pillow protectors and washing.
Standards for processing healthcare linen
Local regulatory bodies enforce a lot of restrictions on handling, cleanliness and hygiene control at the laundry facility for processing healthcare linen. The rental linen service provider has to ensure that the linen is washed separately in barrier washers and not mixed with hospitality linen to keep infection control at the highest degree of protection. Additionally, the chemicals used at the laundry facility should have antimicrobial protection and processed at high temperatures to inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria on the linen.
Why should one opt for the rental linen model?
The most cumbersome process in the housekeeping function of the healthcare industry is the management of linen. As many healthcare service providers do not have in-house laundries and the linen gets washed at outsourced laundry facilities, the quality of wash is always in question. The cleanliness and hygiene control of these outsourced laundries is to be considered, more so during the current pandemic crisis.
The other perennial problem that exists globally is the mismatch between the quantity of linen that goes out of the healthcare facility to the outsourced laundry and the count that comes back. It is a well-known fact that the count never matches, for obvious reasons. Given this scenario, it is best to choose a technology (RFID as an IoT element) enabled linen rental service provider who can offer a simple-to-use solution that works on the pay-per-use model. This model gives peace of mind to the housekeeping personnel, and the healthcare operators do not have to invest in buying and washing the linen themselves.
How to decide whether to go in for rental linen
- The residual value of the linen in operation
- Value of linen bought during the year
- Laundry Opex costs
- Missing linen, rewash and losses
- Commercial space costs to store the linen if you were to operate the laundry yourself
- Resource costs to manage the store room inventory
Apprehensions of potential customers
They tend to have the following questions:
- Will the quality of linen be good?
The quality of linen has to be excellent because the life of the linen has to be maximal in order to get the maximized rental revenue. Therefore, service providers like us will choose the quality of linen that lasts for 100+ washes.
- Will the rental company provide us with required inventory stocks?
It is the responsibility of the service provider to agree to an SLA that confirms availability of a certain quantity of linen at the healthcare facility at all times. You can specify this in the contract and have a condition attached to the service KPIs.
- Will the washing be proper and hygienic, with extra precautions taken for the situation we are in?
As the linen belongs to the service provider, they will be careful to wash it in the right environment by using proper chemicals and laundry process parameters to maximize the linen usage.
- Will my linen reach the healthcare facility on time?
The service provider will usually provide buffer stocks of 10% to meet emergency situations when the logistics fail to deliver at the agreed time. This has to be part of the SLA. The typical turnaround is 24 hours from the time of pickup. The service provider will have to ensure that enough stocks are in use at all times to have a turnaround of 24 hours.
- Will the same linen that goes out of the facility be brought back?
The use of RFID technology (IoT) in the linen will ease the operations on the floor to separate the linen from different customers and help to maintain customer-wise stocks in order to avoid mixing of stocks.
Cost savings of the rental linen model
For instance, if the traditional model of linen management works out to say AED 12 per patient/ bed, the rental model can work out to be more effective than this cash outlay. The latter includes laundry costs as well as the cost of rental linen (35-45%).
We will soon be launching our rental linen service for healthcare in UAE and India.