Data vs. Information
The world tends to use “data” and “information” interchangeably, a misconception that compounds the everyday challenges of HTM and other professionals. A list of all the infusion pumps and their maintenance histories in a health care facility is data; a graphical analysis isolating the specific models with the highest maintenance costs is information. A table with the installation dates and expected operational lifetimes of all blood pressure monitors is data. A trend chart illustrating the quarterly end-of-life replacement costs is information. Data is an orderly collection of bits and bytes; information is insight that yields smart business decisions, assures operational uptime and optimizes budgets.
Rather than interchanging “data” and “information,” the HTM community would be better served by swapping “information” and “insight” for “information” and “analytics.” HTM professionals are intimately familiar with the deficiencies in legacy CMMS systems, but most – especially those with management and regulatory reporting responsibility – would agree that none of those shortcomings is as glaring as their reporting capabilities.
Everyone is familiar with the phrase “garbage in – garbage out.” Bad data yields bad information. Intelligent decision-making is dependent on accurate information, which is a function of data accuracy. Regrettably, legacy CMMS often rely on manually entered and free text input sources, inviting errors when data is being input. Getting the input data wrong eliminates all hope of useful information output. Technicians use paper to record data and manually enter it into a legacy system. Alternatively, customers will export data from one software package to another with an intermediary spreadsheet or CSV file. These are both classic examples of practices that can easily contaminate data.
Modern HTM solutions put a smart mobile device in the hands of the technician at the point of service. These advances eliminate paper-based work orders and utilize drop down lists to minimize free text data input. These modern systems also provide a single platform solution – with an accompanying unified database and single system of record. These systems are then seamlessly connected as a trusted source of truth for data standards. ECRI’s Unique Medical Device Naming Standard (UMDNS), FDA’s Unique Device Identifier (UDI) and Flexera Technopedia are just a few examples.
Modern HTM solutions provide the tools to collect data accurately and in real-time. These platforms are delivered with the configurability needed to assure that all data required is easily collected in a uniform manner. They also provide the ability to adapt when data collection requirements change over time in response to business and regulatory requirements. It is also important to note that the forms technicians use on their smart mobile devices can be easily modified to add new fields, make field inputs mandatory or bound field inputs to choice lists and data tables to prevent meaningless or obviously erroneous inputs.
Mobile device capability, single database and configurable input forms all assure that accurate data is captured at the service source. Clean data input that is the first crucial step in ensuring reporting integrity.
Experienced software product managers will attest that no matter how many out-of-the-box reports, graphics and analytics are generated by an application, customers will generally need to consume the data differently. Data fields are endless. Each customer’s environment is different. Each user has different needs and priorities. While some commonalities will exist, each organization is subject to a unique set of regulatory and compliance requirements that drive varied reporting needs.
The reality of the modern HTM reporting environment is problematic for legacy CMMS. Limited to only a select group of basic reports, extracting data and folding it into consumable outputs often requires the use of Excel or the intervention of software development and reporting teams. By the time a requested report is delivered by the CMMS vendor, the requirement driving that report can change, rendering the delivered report useless. In today’s modern HTM environment, the software vendor is removed from the report-building loop. End users can generate their own reports easily and can literally use any data field in any report.
Data is useless unless it can be translated into information. Modern HTM software platforms allow managers and executives to consume data in nearly infinite combinations, maximizing value and enabling data-driven, intelligent decision-making.
Reporting and Compliance
As every HTM professional who has endured an audit can attest that compliance is not about what you’ve done … but rather what you can prove. This harsh reality drives significant workload and risk to the organization when the Joint Commission or DNV asks for reports that confirms adherence to specified procedures and processes. Disparate paper records, multiple spreadsheets and other information is tediously assembled and used to satisfy unpredictable regulator requests. Already resource-constrained teams are stretched even further during these periodic fire drills.
Modern HTM leaders are replacing this chaotic process with reports that can literally be shown by the HTM team at the request of regulators in real-time. Not only does this approach instill confidence in the regulators, but also frees the HTM team to continue its important work.
Easily extracting insights from accurate HTM data is no longer a theoretical concept. Today’s modern HTM software solutions provide these capabilities out-of-the-box and without expensive intervention from the HTM software vendors themselves. HTM teams, now with modern tools at their disposal, can make smarter decisions, easily address regulatory requirements and eliminate non-value-added work. The winner here is the health care organization and the patients they serve.
Ben Person is the vice president of product marketing at Nuvolo, a modern HTM software provider. Nuvolo invites readers to view an on-demand webinar that discusses the Nuvolo HTM solution in detail at nuvolo.com.
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