By Allison Mascarenhas
Portfolio Executive, Vizient
A hospital's clinical engineering department is tasked with managing medical technologies in order to minimize malfunctions in medical devices and loss in productivity and reliability of medical capital equipment. Effective management and preventative maintenance of diagnostic imaging and biomedical equipment can improve patient access to accurate diagnoses and effective treatment while increasing reliability and performance of medical assets within and across healthcare facilities. Managing medical equipment assets and identifying key factors involved in a hospital's overall asset maintenance and management program is critical to managing healthcare spend and ensuring quality of care.
When developing strategies for comprehensive maintenance of medical equipment, the following critical factors should be considered:
To effectively manage assets, it is critical to identify the types and models of medical equipment. Inventory of medical equipment should be recorded with an appropriate computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) database that is managed by the hospital's clinical engineering department. Each medical device should be recorded within the database with model/serial number and routinely scheduled preventative maintenance protocols. Routine maintenance performances of all medical devices should be accounted for, particularly the high-risk medical equipment that could impact patient care in an especially critical manner. With the utilization of this database, healthcare facilities are able to strategically schedule patient care to reduce loss of productivity when maintenance is required for particular equipment.
In addition, the inventory management database assists healthcare facilities in identifying the variations in equipment models and manufacturers within the inventory. This discovery also can help provide standardization of medical equipment, leading to more cost-efficient purchases.
Capital planning/operational costs
With the assistance of the CMMS database, healthcare facilities can monitor the lifecycle of each asset in order to manage the total cost of ownership for the equipment. Medical equipment has advanced tremendously over the past several years, specifically due to technology improvements — and since these technologies lead to earlier and more precise diagnoses, a larger number of patients are seeking treatment. At the same time, innovative technology advancements in medical equipment also mean higher costs to maintain and service assets to ensure optimal utilization.
When evaluating operational costs and planning for future capital purchases, hospitals must weigh a range of factors such as purchase price, installation costs, warranty length, maintenance requirements, cost of replacement parts and life expectancy of equipment. Understanding operational costs associated with the total cost of ownership of equipment can assist hospitals with planning their capital budget over the next five to 10 years.
Asset management technology
Once operational costs associated with the total cost of ownership of equipment have been determined, hospitals should leverage the appropriate healthcare technology maintenance services. Medical equipment requires various levels of biomedical engineers and technicians on staff within the hospital to ensure equipment is performing at optimal parameters. Hospitals may seek various HTM programs, whether it be a full-service or hybrid program through the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or an Independent Service Organization (ISO).
Health systems should consider the size of the facility, the amount of equipment to be maintained, the annual maintenance plan for each asset, and the time and expertise within the clinical engineering department to help determine if a hospital needs to consider the management overseen by an OEM or ISO.
Strategy is critical
Equipment management is essential to patient safety and wellbeing, and as such, it is crucial for health systems to develop a strategic approach to this process that positions them for long-term success and enhances overall performance. By embracing a blueprint that examines key areas such as inventory management, capital planning/operational costs and asset management technology, hospitals can take substantial steps to meeting those goals.
Learn more about capital asset management on Vizient's healthcare capital, facilities and construction webpage.
About the author
Allison Mascarenhas is a portfolio executive on Vizient’s capital, imaging and asset management team. Allison has more than eight years of experience in medical supply chain operations, health insurance and managed care administration. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Louisiana State University, a Master of Public Health with a concentration in health policy and systems management from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and a Master of Business Administration from University of New Orleans.