Last month, we described the app-development platform that earned Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Innovation the 11th Health Devices Achievement Award, announced in May by ECRI Institute. That project was not the only one to gain recognition, however. Three additional organizations were honored as finalists for the 2017 Award.
The projects from these organizations – described below in alphabetical order – show how health technology management professionals can bring value to the enterprise by thinking strategically, completing service tasks more reliably, and managing product safety information more effectively.
Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky was named a finalist for its use of strategic planning principles to set the direction for its clinical engineering group. The group developed, and later refreshed, a multi-year strategic plan to establish guiding principles and tactical goals so that the group could better meet the evolving needs of the organization.
A key component of this project was the refresh effort that took place in 2016. During a department-wide workshop, teams were challenged to identify tactics that the group should employ to better meet its goals. The recommendations from each group were then incorporated into a road map that listed:
The tactics to be employed, and how each one related to the group’s defined goals
An “owner” for each tactic
A target date for completion and, if possible, an associated measure of success
These efforts were pivotal in setting the direction for the clinical engineering department and in identifying measures to support the broader organizational goals. The refresh effort, in particular, provided an opportunity to take a fresh look at the group’s activities and to adjust and refine its tactics, in light of ever-changing circumstances, to better meet the organization’s goals. Involving the entire team in these processes helped staff understand the trajectory of the group’s efforts and fostered a greater sense of ownership in helping to meet the group’s goals.
Service New Brunswick
Service New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada earned recognition as a finalist for the simple but effective approach it used to improve completion rates for medical device inspection and preventive maintenance (IPM) procedures throughout the Canadian province.
Several years ago, the eight clinical engineering groups serving the health care facilities in New Brunswick, Canada, were consolidated into a single group. One challenge associated with this consolidation was completing IPM procedures in a timely manner across the organization. Any IPMs that were not completed during one month would spill over into the next, compounding the problem. The organization needed a way to provide technologists with better guidance to help them prioritize the equipment on their lists. Their solution was to forget about “due dates” and instead to embrace a concept called the “critical percentage.”
The critical percentage for any piece of equipment is determined by dividing the number of days since the equipment’s last inspection by the recommended frequency of inspection (in days). That figure is then multiplied by 100 to obtain a percentage. Whereas the due date communicates only when an inspection is due for a piece of equipment, the critical percentage expresses the due date in relation to the recommended IPM frequency for that piece of equipment. In this way, it helps technologists prioritize their work by identifying the most urgent IPMs to complete at any given time.
Plus, the critical percentage is expressed as a single value. This makes it easy to see at a glance which equipment should be given priority (higher numbers are a higher priority than lower ones). It also simplifies generating reports so that technologists, managers and administrators can track progress toward meeting the organization’s IPM goals for each facility in the system.
Since instituting this change, the organization achieved marked improvement in its IPM completion rates and has consistently maintained that level of performance.
St. Luke’s Health System
St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho was named a finalist for the process it used to transition its recall management program from a disconnected, paper-based process to a centralized, automated system. The new system allows better tracking of reports, enhanced and reliable communications, documentation of actions taken, and real-time reporting.
The team at St. Luke’s recognized that successful implementation of such a far-reaching system required more than just redefining processes and purchasing new technology. It would require a well-conceived strategy for achieving effective and lasting change. Thus, the team set in motion a process of optimizing technology, systematizing processes, and mobilizing people.Technology solutions included:
Implementing an online recall management system, ECRI Institute’s Alerts Tracker
Exploiting the capabilities of an existing communications system to improve notifications about, and responses to, situations that require immediate action
Using the Alerts Tracker Automatch feature to identify whether supplies in inventory at the health systems’ various facilities are the subject of a recall or other alert
Developing enhanced reporting tools, such as a dashboard to communicate compliance trends and resolution times
As the program matured, the St. Luke’s team systematized its processes by, for example, producing a system-wide recall policy, creating standard operating procedures based on best practices and measures for avoiding pain points, and standardizing the employee training system.
To mobilize people – that is, to engage both leadership and staff in the process – the organization developed a clear shared vision, communicated that vision throughout all departments, and empowered people to act on that vision.
The success of the team’s approach can be seen in the significant reductions in unresolved alerts that were achieved in the first six months. The baseline of unresolved alerts – that is, the total number of alerts that remained unresolved from week to week – was reduced tenfold, from approximately 2,000 alerts to about 200 to 300 alerts. Likewise, average resolution times for alerts were reduced dramatically.
Also Deserving Recognition . . .
Next year, the winner could be you. ECRI Institute presents its annual Health Devices Achievement Award to the member health care institution that has carried out the most exceptional initiative to improve patient safety, reduce costs or otherwise facilitate better strategic management of health technology.
If your organization has engaged in a health technology management project that deserves recognition, ECRI Institute wants to hear about it. The nonprofit research institute accepting submissions for next year’s Award through January.
For additional information, visit https://www.ecri.org/Pages/Health-Devices-Award-Rules.aspx.
This article was excerpted from ECRI Institute’s membership website. The full article features additional details about the projects outlined above. To learn more, visit www.ecri.org/HDAwardwinner; call (610) 825-6000; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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