Providing quality patient care is at the heart of every healthcare organization. This seemingly simple mission requires a complex web of people, processes, and technologies. And, while patient care is the ultimate priority, healthcare organizations must also have a keen business sense to insure the financial flexibility needed to continually invest in infrastructure. More and more hospitals are making a strategic decision to outsource their biomedical equipment management to independent service organizations. This helps balance patient care with financial goals.
Availability of Certified Technicians
In the past, maintaining biomedical equipment was much more mechanical than it was technical. A handy technician could diagnose and fix a problem using the tools one might find in a well-maintained workshop. Today’s clinical equipment is much more complex and requires very specialized training to maintain. Often, that means lengthy, off-site training sessions that leave in-house programs short-handed for days at a time.
Organization’s also risk attrition, where technical certifications and expertise leaves with the individuals that hold those certifications. Independent clinical engineering organizations can pull from a pool of pre-qualified resources to alleviate the backfill problems that in-house programs cannot immediately remedy.
Investment in Electronic Asset Management Systems
As JCAHO and other compliance organizations tighten their regulatory reins, the documentation of maintenance and inspection histories for individual assets takes an increasingly important role. Inspectors do not want to wait while file cabinets are scoured to find the maintenance history of a particular asset.
Unfortunately, the investment in an electronic asset management system is an expensive proposition for healthcare organizations. It may tie-up financial resources that would otherwise be used to support core functions associated with patient care.
Often, independent clinical engineering groups have already made the investment in electronic asset management systems because it is their core competency. These asset management systems not only help provide inspectors with quick access to key information, but they can be programmed with inspection schedules, preventive maintenance schedules, and reminders so biomedical assets are regularly and proactively maintained to ensure peak performance.
Management of Equipment Repair and Maintenance
Independent clinical engineering firms can also help hospitals manage OEM equipment contracts. Equipment manufacturers do not always have the resources to provide timely, onsite responses to equipment problems. Because independent service organizations are already certified on a majority of clinical equipment, they are able to perform repair and maintenance services faster than the OEM, in many cases.
Additionally, due to the number of unique OEM warranties and contracts within a given hospital, simply tracking down the manufacturers’ contact information and ensuring they meet their negotiated service level agreements can be a daunting task in and of itself. Consolidation of OEM contracts by an independent service organization provides hospitals with a single resource for biomedical equipment problems and frequently leads to increased uptime and fewer headaches for hospital staff.
Objective, Knowledgeable Equipment Acquisition
Finally, if a clinical engineering specialty firm is managing your biomedical equipment, they should provide independent and objective consultation associated with equipment acquisition. Their expertise with clinical technology goes beyond that which is in any individual hospital.
When it is time to upgrade or purchase new equipment, a trusted source with a broad understanding of clinical technology can provide expert consultation independent of what a manufacturer can offer. Ultimately, this expert advice will lead to equipment choices that maximize the lifecycle of an asset based on the specific needs of a healthcare organization.
Outsourcing Balances Patient Care with Fiscal Responsibilities
Managing thousands of clinical assets can be an overwhelming task for even the most efficient in-house biomedical group. Independent clinical engineering organizations help hospitals efficiently manage their biomedical assets through an extensive knowledge pool, greater access to expert resources, better regulatory compliance, consolidation of OEM contracts and increased service levels. These advantages allow healthcare organizations to focus more resources on their core mission of providing quality patient care while minimizing the financial risk and resources of a non-core function like biomedical equipment management.