Nurses, physicians and other caregivers rely on the devices in your inventory to assure the best possible outcomes for their patients. When these devices are out of service for extended periods, the efficiency of their patient care efforts may be affected. Beyond its effect on the timely delivery and efficiency of patient care, extended downtime can cause a loss of valuable revenue. From the users, or customer’s perspective, they may care far more about equipment downtime than whether or not a device’s safety sticker is up to date. Despite the impact of equipment downtime on the delivery of healthcare, none of our regulatory or accreditation agencies requires routine reporting of this type of data. Even though we are not required to report downtime, it can be an important metric for our departments to track.
Although it may not be obvious, measuring downtime enables you to measure the total performance of your department. It provides you with an opportunity to investigate areas of inefficiency and look for ways to improve. Listed below are many of the areas of department operations where inefficiencies can negatively affect downtime:
Poor Inventory Management of Replacement Parts
Excess downtime accrues needlessly when technician manage within minutes to identify the reason for a device’s failure only to have to wait weeks for the replacement part. Improved repair parts inventory management based upon the more common parts failures and the ability of suppliers to provide timely or rush shipments can reduce the time you spend awaiting parts.
Inefficiencies in Your Purchasing Department
Hospital purchasing departments spend most of their time processing orders for routine medical and laboratory supplies. Consequently, their procedures are oriented toward those types of orders. When they receive purchase requests for parts, they often do not recognize the vendors and they seldom understand your parts descriptions. This can result in order processing delays while they seek clarification. The best way to avoid purchasing delays is to use a hospital issued credit card for repair parts purchases. An alternative to using a credit card would be to ask your purchasing manager to designate a specific buyer to handle your orders. Once your designated buyer becomes more familiar with your vendors and parts needs the time lost while awaiting repair parts should decrease.
Poor Internal Tracking of Devices
Developing an efficient system for tracking devices when they are sent to your department for service can prevent a device from getting lost in the “system“ and collecting dust until someone realizes it is there, or the owner department calls to ask for a progress update.
Lack of Alternate Suppliers for Replacement Parts.
As equipment ages it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain repair parts. By keeping an updated list of alternate suppliers to call on, you can avoid lengthy back order situations.
The items I have listed above are examples of the types of problems that can increase device downtime. There are many others ranging from inadequate BMET training to a lack of parts lists and repair manuals but tracking downtime will enable you to identify the bottlenecks in your department and seek solutions to them.
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