Sponsored by Medigate
Every day, in every hospital, a nurse is looking for an infusion pump. It is a universal and ubiquitous experience, one that nurses and staff just workaround to accomplish their mission of providing exceptional patient care. But this common issue is more dangerous than is realized, and it is time for clinical engineering to access the data latent within their connected devices to solve this problem, once and for all.
Delay in care has a cascade effect on many different systems within a healthcare delivery organization (HDO). While the most obvious effect is an adverse patient outcome, many others bring high-stress levels to the HDO system. Suppose a front-line nurse cannot find a needed device to deliver care. In that case, that patient’s room stays occupied longer, and when the radiology department backs up with studies, the delay in imaging stalls the diagnosis. Typically, when a department lacks a needed device, they will take it from somewhere else and shift the shortage to another unit.
Clinical engineering has systems to manage the deployment, updating and repair of valuable connected medical devices. But these systems struggle to keep up with the dynamic nature of both front-line care and the device regulatory agencies. While they may know when a device needs preventative maintenance or learn of a recall that affects a portion of their fleet, they may not know the location of that specific device in the hospital. However, with better visibility into the device data from the wired and wireless network, clinical engineering can know exactly which devices in its fleet they need to maintain or remediate, and it can quickly respond.
While there may be thousands of devices across an HDO, actual utilization metrics are difficult to come by. With better utilization data from the wired and wireless network, clinical engineering can ascertain which devices are being used, when they are operational and where they are being “stored.” With many nursing units pre-empting a device shortage by storing them in a closet for use later, the par-level can get out of balance very quickly. Should clinical engineering not find the device when it comes time for preventative maintenance, they can mark it as “lost” in the CMMS, triggering a potential need to replace that device by purchasing or leasing another. Since a nurse hid the device for later use and is not actually “lost,” it can miss preventative maintenance and fall out of compliance.
When the need arises for a device to be maintained or a recall is issued, it is incumbent on clinical engineering to find the affected devices quickly to take the correct steps. With better location data, clinical engineering can locate the specific devices affected with certainty and remove them from service until the needed work has been completed. Additionally, location data from the network connection can help ensure that par-leveling is maintained for each unit, and stock can be dynamically allocated from units with abundance to those needing more devices to care for their patients.
The data needed to solve this problem exists within the connected devices and the traffic they send across the network. Clinical engineering needs to deploy additional tools to bring relevant insights from that data to solve these complicated issues for front-line care providers. In the end, a nurse deploys the majority of connected devices in the course of patient care, so the work of ensuring their availability and performance takes on a new layer of importance. It is time for clinical engineering to solve a problem for the front-lines of care that they have been consistently working around, making their lives easier and improving the efficiency of clinical engineering and the HDO overall.
Trevor McGovern, Channel Sales Engineer
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