Patient inflow to hospitals is increasing remarkably across the world. It has also triggered the pressing need for better medical equipment maintenance.
Hospitals should maintain their equipment properly to provide effective diagnostic and treatment services and get better returns on investment from their equipment.
Hospitals cannot provide effective services to patients with substandard or faulty equipment. Due to the growing demand for medical services, the medical equipment and maintenance services industry has grown by 1.7% to attain $3 billion in revenue.
With the prevalence of administering COVID19 vaccines, demand for medical devices like ultra-low temperature freezer has grown worldwide.
Statistics paint a rosy picture for the healthcare industry, showing steady growth. But what is not visible from statistics is the struggle the industry faces in maintaining its equipment.
Medical institutions and biomedical engineers confront several challenges in maintaining medical equipment. But how to overcome the challenges? The following are the ways:
Service Schedule Coordination
It becomes a tedious task for the service engineers in medical facilities to track service requirements for equipment with many medical devices all around for performance inspection.
The tediousness multiplies when the engineers need to handle equipment across facilities. In such situations, coordinating maintenance schedules becomes difficult due to the differences in service recommendations of different manufacturers, failure to send faulty equipment to manufacturers timely, and no universal preventive maintenance guidelines for all medical assets.
Missing Critical Data
Many times, technicians can fail to understand the machine components disabling them to repair the spot’s equipment. And they have to contact equipment manufacturers for support. It can become problematic if vendor records or warranty cards are not available. Missing equipment data results in maintenance schedule disruptions.
Arranging Replacement Parts
Failure to get spare parts for faulty equipment acts as a big hurdle in regular maintenance routines. Manufacturers often discontinue certain components’ production, resulting in unavailability for service engineers to conduct maintenance of the corresponding equipment. So, it is a good idea to pre-plan service schedules to avoid last-minute disruptions.
How to Streamline Medical Equipment Maintenance?
Let us now explore how you can streamline your medical equipment maintenance schedules:
Proper inventory management is the key to achieving your objective. Begin by documenting all assets in stock in your medical facility to plan maintenance activities around them.
Tag your medical devices with unique ids, and enter the ids into an online management system. In this way, technicians can quickly track them. Moreover, record the necessary details of each asset by using a barcode.
You can minimize human error to a great extent with the implementation of automated data entry. It also enables hospitals to maintain accurate data at all times.
A good practice is to break the inventory into different categories, like imaging equipment, devices integrated with IT, or consumables like fluids and medication to simplify the process.
Ensure that you make your inventory as comprehensive as possible. In addition to the ids, add failure frequency, the availability of alternate devices, and downtime and repair costs.
If you use a robust medical equipment management system, the addition of customized fields becomes easier.
Medical equipment maintenance is a broad area. It covers the repair of assets and instrument sterilization.
Medical facilities should plan service schedules properly to avoid the spread of bacteria and infections. Implement equipment management software to generate service tickets for equipment maintenance. With software, you can implement preventive maintenance on time and eliminate sudden equipment breakdowns.
It is also a good practice to provide your technicians with a list of dependable vendors from your database for accessing specialized maintenance facilities.
In addition to scheduling regular maintenance activities, medical facilities need to meet the compliance regulations.
If you fail to do so, the following eventualities can occur:
There arises the risk of health hazards in the hospital. It can negatively impact doctors, nurses, patients, and staff.
Therefore, if you compromise on compliance, it will amount to compromising on medical equipment safety and people’s safety.
It is a health concern in a medical facility to house non-compliant equipment, which can pose health hazards for anyone coming in contact with the device.
The cost of non-compliance is high as it can even attract penalties from regulatory bodies. The FDA has recommended its guidelines for maintaining equipment in hospital facilities with the clear objective to enable healthcare facilities to maintain their equipment up to the mark.
Therefore, medical facility owners should set up a compliance program by considering the prevailing industry standards and the relevant guidelines. They should not fail to follow them by conducting periodic audits that bring compliance issues to the fore that go unnoticed.
With an equipment maintenance system, you can conduct regular audits for your medical equipment in your hospital facility. It will enable you to know your entire inventory’s status and ensure safety at your facility at all times.
At times, it might so happen that the cost of non-compliance might be too high that you cannot even bear it.
A good way of streamlining all the maintenance processes is to track medical assets throughout their life cycles.
You can know the usage history of your medical equipment with the help of an automated lifecycle management software program.
Implementation of the software will help you access the entire service data for each piece of equipment since its procurement. With lifecycle management, you can dispose of your machines timely.
It helps you avoid your equipment’s breakdowns, enabling you to carry out your hospital operations uninterruptedly.
There is one more benefit. You can also save money by selling old machines when they call for costly large-scale repairs. You can replace faulty equipment on time.
Analyzing your hospital data can unfold useful insights that can help you understand how the facility performs.
In this context, you should implement an efficient data logging system to enable your staff to update the equipment’s status every time they use it.
Updating the equipment status becomes much simpler with the system, providing data regarding maintenance history, depreciated value, and inventory levels for all your available equipment.
The data can help biomedical engineers with detailed statistics to prepare actionable reports, detailing rates of return and general asset management trends. Such reports also help to know the areas that call for improvement.