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Medical Equipment Management or Electronic Asset Management?

Published on April 29, 2017

By C. Wayne Hibbs, PhD, CCE

In the September 2013 issue of 24×7 Magazine, I contributed a Service Solutions article titled “End of Life in Lean Medical Equipment Management,” which discussed how healthcare systems were implementing lean processes to reduce costs and liabilities. (Click here to read the article in its entirety.) The article also touched on how lean specialists had developed metrics to measure the performance of all levels of healthcare, with the goal of maximizing value while minimizing waste in the processes, equipment, and people involved.

C. Wayne Hibbs

Further, one of the targeted metrics was to perform an end-of-life (EOL) analysis of medical equipment inventories. The EOL determinations were then plotted for capital equipment master planning over a five- or 10-year projection period.

The two sources of data selected were the American Hospital Association’s (AHA’s) “Estimated Useful Lives of Depreciable Hospital Assets” and the HTM database of existing medical equipment, with the corresponding ages of the devices. In each case, the biomedical service group would have most of the information needed to perform the analysis, although some areas of the inventory weren’t available—including major ones.

Also, many of the lean programs later found out that they didn’t have laboratory analyzers, operating room lights and booms, sterile processing equipment, or flexible endoscopes. And these items were a significant percentage of the overall equipment value and critical to the EOL management projections.

Back to the Future

While lean is still an important concept in healthcare operational management, the financial targets have been redefined into electronic asset management (EAM). Fortunately, HTM professionals’ input and responsibilities are much better defined in an EAM program than in a lean management process.

In a perfect world, EAM can interface data from the supply chain on all equipment purchased or leased. The receiving report would be used to establish a new item by date of purchase, receipt, vendor, warranty, inventory tag number, as well as the hospital department that owns the device. These functions represent the “gatekeeper” component.

The EAM system would then track each item by where it is located, how often it is used, when it requires service or calibration, in addition to any supplies, disposables, reagents, or calibrators it requires. It would also track the amount of time staff members spend using it—information that would define staffing requirements in micro-full-time equivalents.

Currently, this data is in many different and non-compatible formats. If the EAM can access these multiple operational costs, however, it could resolve the “operational manager” component.

But the clinical activity of any item in the EAM system needs to be tracked. You need to know, for instance, if the device is an automated chemistry analyzer that is performing 750,000 billable tests per year, a heart/lung machine that is used in 300 cardiovascular surgical cases per year, or a defibrillator in the PT/OT gym that has not be used on a patient in six months.

While this might be thought of as a return on investment, it must be looked at as the “availability” component. It should answer the question: “Do we have enough or do we have too much?” Still, this information will never justify the development cost of an EAM since it doesn’t create answers—it only compiles data.

Better Asset Management

To justify EAM, we need to have access to our own IBM Watson. After all, Watson could take the “gatekeeper” information, apply the “operations manager” function to the “availability” requirements, and determine the total cost of ownership, aka TCO. Note: TCO is a much better management tool than EOL estimations garnered from an AHA guidebook that is published every five years.

Tracking the TCO could create a function of ongoing benefits to expenses. Case in point: A new CT scanner may run for seven or eight years with minimal problems, turning out many scans per day and only requiring two staff members for 12-hour days. But then the frequency and cost of service begins to increase; the types of procedures it performs change as newer, faster CT scanners are purchased; and the TCO graph has an upswing.

A well designed EAM will identify or even predict this change in TCO and notify the gatekeeper when the cost of ongoing ownership exceeds the cost of replacement with a newer technology. This electronic asset management is much more important than EOL in the efficient and lean operation of our facilities. And as HTM professionals, it’s up to us to champion for the better management of the technologies we support.

Source: 24x7 Magzine

C. Wayne Hibbs, PhD, CCE, is a certified clinical engineer, director of technology planning, and principal with BSA LifeStructures, Indianapolis. For more information, contact [email protected].

Handy Land: A Day in the Life of a Biomed

This article will appear with 24×7’s June 2016 anniversary coverage.

Do your workdays often feel like a children’s board game? Grab a wrench and see if you can make it through all the work orders by 5 o’clock!

Published on May 31, 2016 


Good Day Sunshine
Start your day off right by getting out of the basement and checking in with other departments. Help yourself to a bagel, and move forward one space.

Morning Mayhem

The CT machine in the ER is down, and you’re stuck waiting for the OEM’s service tech. Lose 2 hours.

Coffee Collaboration
Meet with IT to plan the rollout of a new EHR system. Congratulate yourself for being a team player, and move ahead three spaces.

Service Setbacks
An anesthesia machine breaks…and the page you need in the repair manual is missing. Swap out machines to resume surgery.

Tech Talk
Take 10 minutes to show a frustrated nurse how to use that new IV pump and make a friend for life—or at least until next week. Take another turn!

Afternoon Blues
A senior biomed with 40 years’ experience is retiring next month, but the hospital is in a hiring freeze. Notify HR and plan to reallocate workloads.

Vendor Victory
By getting a quote from a second vendor, you save your facility $15,000 on a service contract. Move ahead four spaces!

Repair Resolution
You track down a hard-to-find replacement part online—and the company even offers same-day shipping! Proceed to checkout.

Jump Start

Take 5 minutes to schedule a test date for the fall CHTM exam. Almost there!

Reset Button
A promising student from a local biomed program wants to intern at your facility. Start over tomorrow!


Source: 24x7 Magazine

The Electronic and Biomedical Engineering (EBME) department should ensure processes are in place for acceptance testing. These processes will check that equipment meets safety standards, meets clinical requirements, and the procurement requirements of the Hospital from the day it arrives. (This advice may be used in conjunction with this acceptance form.)

Biomedical Engineering Video

Why recreate the wheel? On this page you'll find sample copies of service plans, policies, safety and marketing brochures, and more. Borrow some ideas and submit your own. To contribute your documents to this page, refer to AAMI site

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