Medical devices provide invaluable information to clinicians on a patient’s condition, making them a critical component in the delivery of safe, effective and efficient patient care. However, managing and maintaining the plethora of medical devices in hospitals is not an easy task for clinical engineers. Compounding this are standards for medical equipment maintenance announced by the Joint Commission to align with updated regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that require hospitals to develop and implement medical equipment plans on all devices.1,2 The December 2013 memorandum from CMS supercedes S&C 12-07-Hospital, issued December 2, 2011, and updates the guidance in Appendix A, “Survey Protocol, Regulations and Interpretive Guidelines for Hospitals.” These updated regulations require hospitals to compile full inventories, identify high-risk equipment and stringently follow manufacturer maintenance requirements. It’s expected that these regulations will require more time and increase costs of clinical engineering duties in hospitals across the US.2
Devices down = Less options for care
Take for example the use of a mid- to low-acuity monitor that is widely used across different care areas of a hospital. If one component fails, such as a temperature module, the entire unit must be taken out of commission. Additionally, these type of monitors do not provide remote system monitoring capabilities so that clinical engineers can ensure the device is properly working and be alerted to a potential maintenance issue. When it’s down, it’s out — and that’s one fewer device available to clinicians for patient care. Finally, upgrading unconnected devices presents another challenge for biomeds. New software cannot be pushed out to the device; rather, each unconnected device must be taken from patient care areas and upgraded individually.
So what can a clinical engineering department do?
CE's must find a way to circumvent the additional time and cost of these new regulations, ensure that maintenance recommendations are being adhered to, and that devices are available when are where needed? One strategy is to invest in modular solutions that seek value and functionality in both medical devices and clinical IT by converging different clinical tasks in a single unit and providing connectivity across devices and information systems. Specifically:
A system that is modular – or technically disaggregated - so that when one function fails, the others can continue to operate while the failed item is easily replaced without taking the unit out of service.
A system that converges tasks, simplifying clinical workflow and documentation while providing clinical engineering efficiencies in device maintenance, management, and safety.
A system that is scalable to help preserve a hospital's technology investment.
- A system capable of applying the unused data within the device to offer device analytics that can improve operational efficiencies.
We invite you to download our white paper entitled “Healthcare Technology Consolidation,” which discusses just such technological convergence with the advent of a new breed of patient monitoring system – the emerging smart choice for patient monitoring, clinical documentation, optimizing workflow, integrating information and enhancing the delivery of quality patient care.
1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS Manual System, Pub 100-07 State Operators, Appendix A. December 20, 2013. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Survey-and-Cert-Letter-14-07.pdf. Accessed January 28, 2016.
2. Grimes SL. New medical equipment maintenance standards require more hospital time, money and staff. Becker’s Hospital Review, November 09, 2014. Available at: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/new-medical-equipment-maintenance-standards-require-more-hospital-time-money-and-staff.html. Accessed January 28, 2016.