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HIT Think

3 key strategies for better managing medical devices

Maintaining equipment quality and safety, and implementing preventative maintenance strategies, are key to ensuring that healthcare professionals can meet patients’ needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Doing that effectively underscores the need to use information technology to better manage an otherwise bewildering array of equipment.

With more than 10,000 medical devices available to hospitals, managing this network of equipment is a growing challenge—and 62 percent of healthcare technology professionals say device and system management is their biggest pain point.

From noisy carts to faulty diagnostic equipment, improperly managed assets can imperil patient satisfaction and value-based reimbursements. Guaranteeing that networked devices are working properly is a major concern not only for practitioners, but also for patients, who expect seamless and error-free care.

Healthcare IT executives must take the lead in providing solutions to this confusing arena, harnessing data to better manage devices. In general, healthcare organizations must take pre-emptive measures to combat medical device challenges and ensure that medical equipment is helping, not hurting, the patient experience.

Here’s a game plan for making better use of IT in this effort.

Place data at the forefront
As evidenced by the Joint Commission’s strict regulations, healthcare practitioners are under increased pressure to compile full inventories, follow manufacturer maintenance recommendations, identify high-risk equipment, and revise policies and procedures. These strict standards not only equate to more financial expenditures, but also require added attention from hospital leaders.

Access to data is vital for maintaining tight control over medical devices and ensuring that hospital staff are delivering the best possible patient care. Through an enterprise asset management system, healthcare organizations can track maintenance, measure equipment performance, and monitor equipment, all in real-time. These systems enable device integration and can automatically transfer data from medical devices into electronic records. This results in highly customized patient care, paving the way for reduced patient readmission and relapse rates.

Increase efficiency across all touch points
Today’s patients expect seamless and efficient care at all touch points. There is nothing worse than sitting in the emergency room and waiting for the staff to locate the right medical file, sample or piece of equipment. In healthcare, time is precious, and delays can be a matter of life or death.

To increase efficiencies, hospitals must utilize technology. One such example is incorporating connectivity into products through IoT, enabling easy device tracking and in-depth data collection. IoT captures accurate data that can be interpreted into actionable insights, thus saving organizations time on repairs by triggering alerts when preventative maintenance measures need to be taken. This also cuts costs – as equipment can be proactively rehabilitated before failure or recall occurs.

Focus on talent
Having the people with the right skills in place will free practitioners to focus all their energy on the patients, and will lessen the time and energy being spent on extra activities, such as locating and fixing medical devices or performing manual inventory management. By leveraging staff resources with an automated workflow, hospitals can guarantee that appropriately skilled people are maintaining medical equipment.

Implementing behavioral software, with a patient-centric focus, is essential for recommending the right number of staff for specific patients, with the right skills, at the right location, on the right shift, every time. The results show significant cost and time savings, more efficient staffing, improved patient safety, and better medical outcomes.

Medical devices can greatly benefit or hinder a healthcare organization. By properly maintaining and integrating medical equipment, and establishing preventative maintenance procedures, organizations will be prepared to provide patients with the best possible care. Preventative measures like putting a greater focus on talent, improving efficiency across all touch points and putting data at the forefront, are essential to help organizations overcome the challenges medical devices can present.

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