From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Al Gresch
With healthcare margins under constant pressure, and expense rates growing faster than revenue, hospitals are eager to save some of their $93 billion annual spending on medical equipment.
According to some estimates, potential cost savings of between 12 and 16 percent can be missed due to a lack of accurate information, internal resources, bandwidth, and specialized expertise.
I’ve spent my career developing strategies for HTM organizations to move from basic preventive maintenance/break-fix operations to proactive, best-in-class programs. When asked what to do first, I typically recommend the following actions to improve efficiency, save cost, enhance compliance, and improve patient care.
1. Establish structural data integrity
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The first step is to simply have better data. Most healthcare groups usually have a hodgepodge of nomenclature and data systems, which prevents analytics-based improvement.
The solution is to develop a consistent methodology for having accurate data for equipment, regardless of department or location. Then, define the “transforms” that map vernacular terms used by staff into specific standards and precise terms you’ve defined for equipment type, manufacturer, and model. For example, when a nurse requests a new “infusion brain”, your system should deconstruct that into the accurate terms for category (i.e., pump), type (i.e., infusion), manufacturer, and model.
Then, match your electronic records with what’s actually in place. A physical inventory audit might be necessary, and inventory data collection down to specific locations can be automated with RFID tags. Also, be sure your standardized HTM codes are populated into your Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). This enables benchmarking of what service staff is doing so analytics can identify efficiency opportunities.
2. Centralize and standardize policies and procedures
The next wave of value comes from getting everyone to use the system the same way. Stakeholders from across the organization should be brought into the creation process, to ensure their needs are met. Then, document the standards and provide training. Be sure to address how permissions are granted for system access, and how security is maintained by tier, role, and individual.
Control costs by defining how equipment or service requests can be made, and how those requests are routed. Establish closed-loop visibility so stakeholders know the status of orders and requests.