A computer maintenance management system (CMMS) is a valuable tool that biomeds use to maintain medical equipment. TechNation invited several CMMS experts to participate in this month’s roundtable article on CMMS. The goal is to provide insights into the latest technology and features available to the HTM community.
Participating in the roundtable article on CMMS are Fluke Corporation Vice President of Sales and Special Projects eMaint Hannelore Fineman, oneSOURCE Biomed Expert Travis Horstman, Nuvolo Vice President of Product Marketing Ben Person and EQ2 LLC Product Manager Rich Sable.
Q: How has the use of a CMMS progressed in the HTM space?
Horstman: As reporting procedures continue to improve, using a CMMS in the HTM space becomes increasingly important. The advent of refined reporting processes add visibility into many different HTM responsibilities. In addition, asset tracking/procurement, work status (problematic items), fiscal planning and manpower are all important to HTM.
Person: The evolution of HTM departments themselves have driven the need for more powerful and integrated workplace management systems. Legacy CMMS systems could mainly track assets, maintenance history and schedule planned maintenance. Today’s HTM departments must also manage vendor service contracts, track and manage maintenance costs, oversee device cybersecurity and have data for capital planning. Legacy CMMS systems have given way to cloud-based offerings that greatly expand the flexibility and capability of the typical CMMS. The advent of mobile technology is another example, freeing the clinical engineer from paper and greatly improving productivity and reporting options.
Sable: In the past, work orders and asset management were the top concerns for HTM, but now the HTM community leaders are requiring many new features. For example, HTM now requires mobility solutions including non-networked applications for remote areas as well as integration to other information systems to enhance productivity. These include ServiceNow, Zingbox, oneSOURCE, PartsSource, Lawson, PeopleSoft, Glassbeam and RTLS services. Finally, managers need dashboards for at-a-glance management, tools to assist with AEM and ever-evolving compliance requirements, repair parts management and robust reporting. Compared to the early days of CMMS, HTM wants advanced functionality to maintain their organization’s assets, evolving workflows and regulatory compliance.
Q: What factors should biomeds consider when purchasing or upgrading a CMMS for their facility?
Horstman: When purchasing or upgrading a CMMS, biomeds must take into account the facility and features of the system that will be beneficial to that facility’s needs. Asset tracking, for example. If a facility purchases new equipment, health care practitioners can then track maintenance through a general time window, however, if outdated equipment is procured, tracking technology to maintain compliance by the release date is more difficult. Other factors in the decision making process include funding and the justification process for purchasing, along with the level of visibility managers believe should be placed on the facility’s CMMS.
Person: It all starts with configurability and flexibility. Every healthcare technology management team works differently, and you want to select a system that adapts to your operations, not the other way around. Additionally, a native mobile application is par for the course nowadays and should have the ability to work offline or online to accommodate the nature of the health care environment. And since the Joint Commission or DNV surveys are a fact of life, easily generating real-time compliance reports, as well as self-generating custom reports, is key to handling those periodic fire drills that everyone dreads.
Sable: One factor to consider is the longevity of the CMMS vendor because this is directly related to their knowledge and experience with HTM needs and regulatory compliance. Another factor to consider is the delivery model such as SaaS or in-house servers because many IT departments will dictate the delivery model, and a vendor that offers both solutions will better meet their IT department’s needs. Also, biomeds should consider their department workflows and assess the software requirements to match their service model. Such considerations include mobility solutions, networked or non-networked operation, system integration, and support and service required for the CMMS product chosen. Finally, your CMMS budget will dictate whether the purchase is for a full system or to take the modular approach where modules are selected as needs arrive and budget becomes available.
Q: What are some of the newest features available?
Fineman: Some of the newest advances in CMMS capabilities are how it connects with other industrial data sources. eMaint CMMS can connect with Fluke sensors to provide maintenance teams a complete picture of asset health. By integrating data from other sources, teams can move from calendar-based preventive maintenance efforts to more efficient predictive maintenance strategies.
Horstman: oneSOURCE is integrated in multiple CMMS software programs. Within the equipment record in the CMMS oneSOURCE can be accessed and automatically queried for documentation. Document results automatically populate on our search screen. The document found can be added to CMMS database on the work order or equipment record. This is very intuitive and can be accomplished with a few clicks. These features are beneficial because it provides direct access for technicians and managers to manufacturer’s documents required for maintenance and repair. Technicians can quickly and easily access the document within their software while actively providing support. Managers can verify work completed is in line with equipment manufacturer’s recommendations, thus improving efficiency and accuracy of work performed.
Person: Robust AEM functionality is something that is moving into modern CMMS systems as the AEM implementation process standards are being further defined by leaders in the HTM community, including the automation around selection and reporting necessary to credibly justify modifying the OEM maintenance schedule of a device. I would also say that, given the threat posed by cyber bad actors, improvements in cybersecurity vulnerability remediation operations – and specifically automating them effectively – not only alleviates workloads but, more importantly, can reduce the risk of a cyberattack that impacts hospital operations, patient privacy or patient safety.
Sable: One new feature especially helpful for remote locations is a non-networked mobile application that allows the technician to open, update and close work orders in the field, and then syncs the data once connected again. Another new feature is our call escalation and call assignment modules which route the work orders automatically to the correct technician and continually escalates them to the next technician or manager according to the HTM department’s policy. Already interfaced/integrated with ServiceNow, ECRI, RTLS and others, we recently added oneSource, Glassbeam, Lawson and PeopleSoft to meet hospital needs.
Q: How can HTM professionals make sure their CMMS keeps up with advances in technology?
Fineman: CMMS systems that are Software-as-a-Service platforms offer the best way to keep up with technological changes. Updates are rolled out as part of the subscription, so users always have the latest technology available.
Horstman: By building strong relationships with clinical engineering managers and technicians, HTM professionals are then more prepared for what is needed and required of their systems. Researching these requirements then informs the HTM professionals if these features are available within a new CMMS. Customer-based development and a working knowledge of CMMS help drive innovation and forums like TechNation prove to be an excellent resource.
Person: Like clinical devices, CMMS technology has advanced considerably in recent years, and it’s important to take an objective look at your legacy CMMS and evaluate whether it is meeting the current needs of the HTM department and hospital. It’s a direct function of the vendor and the platform on which the CMMS is built. Some technologies are simply difficult to upgrade or modify, and there’s little the vendor can do about it. Understanding the vendor’s release cadence, feature enhancement request process and, most importantly, underlying technology, is critical to preparing for what is likely to be a long-term commitment and what that means for product value and modernity.
Sable: One way to keep up with advances in technology is to choose a CMMS vendor with a proven history and proven experience in the HTM field which will guarantee that the vendor will include updates to maintain regulatory compliance and address new workflow design. Another way to ensure the HTM department has the latest and greatest software is to purchase a support contract that includes product updates which will often have enhanced functionality based on advances in technology. This way, both service and upgrades are taken care of and this method is easier to budget than budgeting a full system upgrade in the future. Finally, it’s best to choose a vendor that attends HTM events such as AAMI Exchange and MD Expo, so their teams can keep a finger on the pulse of the HTM industry.
Q: What else do you think TechNation readers need to know about purchasing and using a CMMS?
Fineman: One major pain point for leadership is adoption rates and successful implementation of new systems or workflows. Luckily, eMaint CMMS software not only offers tips and tricks to improve adoption, but our customer success managers are with you every step of the way to ensure your organization achieves their maintenance goals.
Horstman: When purchasing and using a CMMS, HTMs should begin the search process with needs in mind. Do they need a program that can integrate with older systems? Can it replace the old systems? What type of reporting would be required for their funding processes? And, the list goes on. HTMs should be aware of what programs are integrated with the system.
Person: A relationship with a CMMS vendor is a long-term proposition. Look for a CMMS solution that is specifically focused on the health care industry. Try not to make the decision based on an immediate feature need, but rather try to project the flexibility of the platform and the vendor over the course of a 5- or 10-year relationship. Do they demonstrate an innovative culture? Does their technology make it relatively easy or difficult to accommodate inevitable changes in your business requirements? Does the vendor focus on the future of HTM and keep pace with those trends? Those kinds of macro-considerations are ultimately the most important areas to look at when considering a modern CMMS system.
Sable: TechNation readers should look for a CMMS vendor that has built-in intelligence that assists them in setting up their system to determine equipment type risk, assets eligible for AEM, advanced tools to maintain and document compliance, test equipment calibration, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Also, it’s important to have a budgetary figure for your new system and choose a vendor that offers a modular approach in case you need to build your system over several years. Finally, the HTM department should evaluate the condition of its current data to determine if the data needs to be cleaned up or standardized, and to examine the KPIs that your department needs to report to the C-suite. The CMMS vendor may provide services to help you accomplish these tasks. Regardless of the CMMS, the data must exist and be consistent before any meaningful reporting can be obtained from the CMMS.
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