Strengthen the connection between technology and expertise to predict failures before they occur, reduce unplanned downtime 

Updated on May 6, 2024
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Equipment failures in health care can have serious consequences, including delays in diagnosis or treatment, scheduling disruptions, and patient safety risks. Health systems should empower clinical engineering teams with technology that helps proactively identify potential failures. 

This will allow health systems to gain visibility into the performance of their equipment and take action to prevent failures before they occur. Avoiding equipment failures leads to shorter turnaround times for maintenance, fewer disruptions to patient care, improved patient safety, and reduced stress for BMETs. 

Solve problems before they occur with predictive work systems  

Health systems can significantly decrease the number of unforeseen equipment breakdowns by providing BMETs with predictive work systems. This advanced technology combines remote device monitoring, service expertise, and data science to recognize common preventable equipment problems before a failure happens.   

For example, an MRI could be losing helium without anyone realizing it. If this were to continue, the magnet could reach a critical point resulting in quench and significant unplanned downtime, as well as lost revenue and impacted patient care. A predictive work system would alert technicians that the helium is approaching a critical level, allowing them to take preventative actions and schedule planned downtime that’s convenient for clinicians and the clinical engineering team. 

A predictive work system could also analyze conditions that indicate air bubbles are developing within a CT machine, even when it appears to be working normally. This is a problem that can typically be difficult to predict. However, a predictive work system can notify BMETs there is a problem before it interferes with patient care. 

While a predictive work system is an extremely beneficial tool for BMETs, it does not replace their expertise. When the system automatically alerts the team of a possible problem, a skilled technician is needed to assess the problem and follow through to complete the necessary repair. This technology allows clinical engineering teams to foresee possible failures and prevent extended equipment downtime, canceled patient appointments, and lost revenue. 

Increase preventative maintenance with a Real-Time Location System 

An effective way to streamline preventative maintenance is by taking advantage of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS). Regular preventative maintenance is one of the most reliable ways to lessen the risk of equipment failures and reduce costs, but clinical engineering teams can struggle to keep track of large, complex, and mobile equipment inventories. RTLS allows BMETs to know exactly where devices are located, find them, and perform the needed preventative maintenance.  

RTLS will reduce the time technicians spend searching for a device and increase the number of preventative maintenance tasks they’re able to complete each month. TRIMEDX has found RTLS can reduce the time spent searching for devices by up to 50%.  Without RTLS, if a BMET hasn’t been able to find a device to service it, the device could fail when a clinician tries to use it on a patient. This may lead to disrupted scheduling and clinician & patient frustration.  

By tracking equipment in real-time, BMETs can more easily stay on top of preventative maintenance work—saving time, reducing major equipment issues, and protecting the health system’s investment in its clinical assets.   

Take advantage of automation to improve equipment testing accuracy  

Traditionally, when testing equipment, BMETshave relied on pen and paper to record test results. After running the tests, they’ve written down the results, visually compared the results to acceptable limits, then entered the results manually into a database. This process is time-consuming and filled with opportunities for human error—which can result in incorrect readings, unexpected equipment problems, or other equipment issues that could negatively impact patient care and safety. 

If BMETs have the latest technology, they can instead run tests through a mobile app that automatically feeds results into the system. The app can eliminate handwritten documentation, quickly validate that results are within permissible limits, and allow technicians to complete proactive maintenance at the time of testing. When technicians are equipped with this type of technology, the health system will see fewer incorrect test results and improved failure diagnostics, data handling, & compliance reporting.   

Leverage artificial intelligence to minimize interference with patient care 

There are a multitude of ways artificial intelligence (AI) can empower clinical engineering teams to act proactively to avoid equipment downtime. Another benefit of automated equipment testing is the valuable data collected. Machine-learning engines can collect and analyze the vast amounts of data generated during testing to continuously improve testing accuracy. This ultimately helps minimize unforeseen failures and ensures equipment is consistently in working order.

By adding machine-learning tools to their toolbox, health systems can have access to real-time data and analysis about their clinical assets. By the time a health system manually analyzes data about equipment usage, part replacement, and failure diagnostics–that data is likely out of date. In addition, manually analyzing such large amounts of data is time-consuming and expensive. AI collects and analyzes data in real-time, giving health systems more visibility into equipment performance and allowing them to make smarter decisions.

AI also allows technicians to optimize their preventative maintenance to keep equipment and devices up and running while minimizing interference with patient care. If a certain part needs to be replaced on a machine, AI-powered systems could warn the BMET there is a high probability another part will need to be replaced within three weeks. This allows the BMET to order and replace both parts at the same time, instead of working on the machine twice in a matter of weeks. 

By strengthening the connection between technology and BMET expertise, health systems can avoid costly equipment outages and reduce the stress on overworked technicians. An expert clinical engineering team armed with the latest technology will improve patient care and safety while producing cost-savings for the health system. 

Robert Moorey
Rob Moorey
President of Clinical Engineering at TRIMEDX

Rob Moorey serves as president of clinical engineering for TRIMEDX. Moorey has been with TRIMEDX for over 10 years and has served as senior vice president of customer delivery and division vice president during that time. Before joining TRIMEDX, he spent eight years working for Aramark Healthcare Technologies in various leadership roles and began his career as a United States Air Force Biomedical Equipment Technician, stationed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. Moorey earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Healthcare Administration from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas.