Home' The Source : Third Quarter 2016 Contents SOURCEBOOK CLINICAL CHECK-IN
major issue facing clinical asset and supply chain
managers in healthcare systems is how to approach
the repair and replacement of medical equipment. The
dilemma? There’s not a one-size-fits-all winning for-
mula. Safety is paramount, but supply chain managers must also
consider the age and serviceability of the equipment, and the costs
to service, repair and replace it. Other considerations include the
evolution of technology, and patient or organizational demand for
the newest equipment.
“The process for deciding whether to repair rather than replace
equipment is a complex balancing act,” says David Heider, director,
Capital Equipment Services for HealthTrust.
In fact, the balancing act requires strategic thinking—knowing
your organization’s future direction and plans while also weighing
multiple competing interests and costs. As with many supply chain
decisions, risks compete with rewards.
“Different organizations will have a different feel for where in the
risk-reward spectrum they need to be,” says Bill Barley, director
for Catholic Health Initiatives’ Clinical Engineering Operations.
Ed Taft, the corporate director for Clinical Asset Management
at Tenet Healthcare, adds that one of the most important matters
to keep in mind is how long the equipment can be maintained in a
safe and reliable operating condition.
Both preventive and corrective maintenance must be taken into
account. Organizations can plan for preventive maintenance—often
by combining the manufacturer’s recommendations with their
own experience with the equipment. They can sign a contract for
a service provider to maintain the equipment, or arrange for their
own in-house team to do the servicing. But they will have to also
allow for occasional, unexpected repairs.
Sometimes the actual type of equipment—and how often it’s used—
can play a major role. Lynne Thomas, vice president of Regulation
and Compliance for IMS (Integrated Medical Systems), notes that
specialty devices may be used less, and thus incur less wear and tear.
But repairs for those devices may be significantly more expensive
compared to the “workhorses” that get used regularly.
When Is It Impractical to Repair?
At some point, replacing older equipment may become more
feasible than continuing to make repairs, especially if they’re
needed frequently. Although it will vary from organization to
organization, the following situations often begin to tip the scale
from “repair” to “replace”:
> When replacement parts aren’t available. When a manufacturer
introduces a new piece of equipment, it may begin phasing out
the old equipment—including replacement parts. This can make
it risky to rely on an aging piece of equipment.
> When service costs rise sharply. Service plan costs often rise
when a manufacturer stops making those replacement parts.
> When patient care is disrupted. If the machine needs to be
repaired so often that it’s out of service more than in service,
this can create a major barrier to care delivery. The disruption
can also be costly to an organization if the affected patients
become dissatisfied and choose to get their care elsewhere.
> When a device racks up a high number of failures. Occasionally,
you’ll purchase a lemon and replacement just makes sense. You
may see reports of device failures in other markets, or the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration may have released a warning.
It may be safer from a liability standpoint to return or get rid
of that particular device and start over.
The Medical Equipment Balancing Act
SOMETIMES THE ACTUAL TYPE OF
EQUIPMENT—AND HOW OFTEN IT’S
USED—CAN PLAY A MAJOR ROLE.
SPECIALTY DEVICES MAY BE USED LESS,
AND THUS INCUR LESS WEAR AND TEAR.
BUT REPAIRS FOR THOSE DEVICES MAY
BE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE EXPENSIVE
COMPARED TO THE “WORKHORSES”
THAT GET USED REGULARLY.
Lynne Thomas, vice president of Regulation and Compliance for
IMS (Integrated Medical Systems)
Continued on page 22
20 The Source | Third Quarter 2016
7/14/16 11:48 AM
7/14/16 11:48 AM
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