Wisconsin is known for cheese, beer, lakes and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The northeast part of the state is home to a number of universities and colleges and miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Serving the health care needs of many of the communities in that part of the state is a seven-hospital health care system called ThedaCare. It is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin.
In 1987, the Appleton Medical Center and Theda Clark Medical Center merged and created the Novus Health Group. A subsequent merger occurred in the mid-1990s and the resulting organization changed its name to ThedaCare in 1999.
The health care system is composed of ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah and ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano.
There are also a number of related physician office’s and other health services.
Handling the management of the medical device inventory for ThedaCare is its biomedical systems department. The department is made up of eight biomedical technicians, seven biomedical imaging specialists, one secretary and a manager. They report to the director of materials management and then to the CEO.
The ThedaCare Biomedical Systems Department is responsible for two primary hospitals with approximately 150 beds each and four critical access hospitals with approximately 20-25 beds each. They also manage the medical equipment at a critical access hospital with five beds, a surgery center, a large regional cancer center, a large clinic including endoscopy with several other clinics within it and more than 30 freestanding clinics.
The team does what they can to keep as much of the service in-house as possible.
“We have very few service contracts in place and we take a lot of pride with our ability to support and maintain equipment in house,” says Erin Schipper, biomed manager.
“The majority of our contracts are on laboratory equipment or parts coverage (i.e. tubes and detectors) where appropriate. When we evaluate contract coverage, we consider the needs of the equipment to be able to support in-house versus a contract such as training, test equipment, uptime requirements, physical location, performance or historical information on the equipment/like equipment, impact to clinical care if equipment is unavailable/broken, etcetera,” she says.
“We are not afraid to take risks and we have a lot of tenure within the department that has extensive background knowledge and experience. We take a look at any warranty/prior contract coverage to evaluate what ThedaCare would have paid if we had not been previously covered-cost avoidance,” Schipper adds.
The team provides preventative maintenance and repairs, keeping as much as possible in-house. They are also responsible for ordering parts and escalating with vendors as necessary for additional support or troubleshooting needs.
They are still working out procedures for sharing responsibilities with their IT colleagues.
“We have a pretty good working relationship however, as in most organizations, there is room for improvement. We are in the process of working through improvement opportunities and evaluating different structures and support models to be able to create a more seamless flow when issues arise that may be ‘gray’ in terms of ownership,” Schipper says.
She says that they are especially concentrating on what the experience is like for end users because IS and biomed have different work order ticket systems and phone triaging within ThedaCare.
The group employs data collection in several different ways.
“We utilize our asset management program to collect most of our metrics as a measurement of each individual technician. A monthly scorecard reflects each individual’s adherence to several indicators including PM completion rate — high versus standard priority,” Schipper says.
They also look at the quantity of PMs assigned to each individual, PM completion throughout the month (showcases PMs worked on throughout the month versus the last minute), corrective maintenance/repair completion within a specified time frame and the quantity of repairs that were assigned to each individual over the month.
Schipper says that they also use data to look at closure of any outstanding repairs from the prior month and completion of any recall notification documentation.
Going Above and Beyond
The biomedical systems team has been very involved in projects that go beyond PMs and repairs. Expansion, purchasing and replacements keep the group busy.
“We have been heavily involved with the creation of a long-term capital planning process. We have been concentrating on imaging modalities and equipment within the peri-op environment, however this process/details are expanding to all facets of medical equipment,” Schipper says.
They have also been involved with the implementation of additional 3D mammography systems throughout ThedaCare, replacement of cath labs with newer technology and the replacement and additional integration of new physiological monitors at the two larger campuses.
“Approximately a year ago, we were heavily involved in the build and implementation of a hybrid OR room,” Schipper says.
She says that, in affiliation with an area cancer treatment facility, they were also involved with the acquisition of assets and medical equipment including an additional linear accelerator and PET CT unit.
They also coordinated the implementation of new and replacement fetal monitoring systems at several campuses.
They specialize in problem-solving.
“Our asset management program has been vital to create the baseline for any of the capital planning projects that occur. This includes pivotal data such as purchase date, upgrade information, asset life expectancy, estimated replacement costs and performance history. Insurance that our asset management program is accurate and up to date is the only way to ensure a successful capital plan,” Schipper says.
“We are heavily involved in the selection, planning, build/construction, acquisition and installation of all medical equipment. We work closely with purchasing, department leadership, providers, construction/facilities and IS to ensure all facets are considered,” she adds.
When a patient in Northeast Wisconsin needs medical treatment, they can rely on the ThedaCare Biomedical Systems Department to have their backs.
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