The improvement over time in medical technology, diagnostic, and therapeutic devices has been nothing short of amazing. Our country’s medical industry is the envy of the world, and for good reason. Medical device manufacturers invest tremendous resources to develop the latest machines to diagnose and treat patients. Of course, the latest and greatest technology comes with a hefty price tag.
The useful life of medical products varies greatly and depends on the environment and frequency of use. The severity of conditions will affect the longevity of equipment in any industry. A stretcher in a hospital may last longer than one on an ambulance. An AED on a fire engine may not last as long as one tucked safely in an office wall cabinet.
Regardless, all devices should be inspected by a certified biomed at least annually. The results of these inspections should be diligently documented and organized in a way that is easily accessible by administrators. Each service event should be documented as well. Only cataloging equipment history can provide decision-makers a full picture of what has occurred to keep that device in working order, and the expense incurred to maintain it. Much like the way your physician monitors your blood pressure and labs over the course of years to determine the best treatments, keeping an accurate log of a piece of equipment’s history is the only way to make an informed decision on when it is time to retire and replace a device.
Nurses, doctors, EMTs and other medical professionals could use dozens of devices in the course of a day’s duties. In addition to caring for countless patients, how can these providers possibly be expected to remember what devices were serviced, and how frequently, over the previous 12 months? This is the responsibility of a robust asset management program and a competent, thorough biomedical service company.
When it comes time to standardize your equipment, or simply evaluate ways to save money, a complete history on each device can allow you to make a quick and informed decision. A singular, downloadable report can serve as all the evidence needed to make the call to upgrade or replace a device. If the decision-maker can easily see the annual maintenance costs on a machine exceeded the cost of replacing it, the decision is simple.
As groups expand and practices are acquired, the acquired offices typically come with equipment that may be different than the mother ship normally purchases, and the past service could be inconsistent with the standards of the larger group. After a period of expansion, with several acquisitions, we have seen groups use data to determine the cost efficiency of standardization versus “run it until it quits.”
No group or product is the same, but the one thing that never changes is the value of accurate, historical data to make the most cost-effective decision when it comes to your investment in the equipment you rely on to provide the best patient care.
Matt Spencer is the president of Edge Biomedical.
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