Clinical Asset Management: HTM Teams as Strategic Partners

August 24, 2016
Jim Salmons

Health care technology management teams can help administrators manage imaging.

How are we tracking against our quality goals? Our revenue goals? Our staffing goals?

These three question marks are ever-present in the mind of today’s hospital administrators, serving as the collective gut-check for strategic planning throughout the year. When it comes to clinical asset management, however, meeting, exceeding, or even tracking against these goals proves difficult when the necessary data is lacking. Uncertainty quickly fills this vacuum, and administrators find themselves making strategic decisions based more on past practices than concrete insights. Luckily for today’s leadership, insights from asset data solutions have become more advanced, and administrators are beginning to cultivate an intimate knowledge of their systems in tandem with their health care technology management (HTM) teams.

Some in the health care landscape view HTM departments as a standard necessity, tasked simply with ensuring uptime in the system. As a result, hospitals have subscribed to a catch-all approach to machine uptime, mistakenly believing that 100% asset availability is the rainbow to chase. However, departments fitted with data-driven solutions are beginning to see the irrationality of this line of thinking. With real-time insights to draw from, inquiry suddenly shifts from a tunnel-vision “Are all the CTs available?” to a more dynamic “Are the right CTs available when needed?”[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"51365","attributes":{"alt":"Jim Salmons, vice president, Philips Multi-Vendor Services","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_4774298900503","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6332","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 201px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Jim Salmons, vice president, Philips Multi-Vendor Services","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

An HTM department with a precise knowledge of a system’s inefficiencies can support overarching goals and actively contribute to strategic planning, forming an effective partnership between administrators and HTMs. Because HTMs have access to real-time insights, they’re able to make process alterations in concert with radiology and hospital leadership.

Below are three of the key advantages HTMs armed with clinical asset management solutions can provide to their departments and administrators for tracking, meeting, and improving upon departmental and system-wide goals.

1. Customizing for Quality

Between today’s regulatory requirements and preventative maintenance requirements on medical equipment, true efficiency requires a targeted approach to assessing and maintaining quality.

Data driven solutions provide intelligent benchmarks unique to an organization. With administrators planning around the strengths of their particular systems, it serves as an effective alternative to the ‘cast a wide uptime net’ approach. It gives leadership an unfiltered view into what really matters in their organization, bucking the mismatch of “What do I have?” versus “What do others have?” Smart benchmarking also empowers hospitals to identify important patterns of population device usage and to adjust their preventative maintenance accordingly. If a hospital identifies October and November as their heaviest MRI usage months, for example, then those aren’t the months they’ll schedule for preventative maintenance. These and other adjustments that can be identified through asset management are crucial requirements for improving a hospital’s patient flow in a health care environment that’s already generally efficient.

2. Cutting Costs with Throughput

The average cost to a hospital for an inpatient stay per day is about $2,200.

By itself, the expense seems minimal. But imagine a patient needs a final clinical imaging test completed before discharge and the device is out of commission for one day. If just ten patients scheduled for discharge aren’t able to undergo scanning, it’s an immediate financial loss of over $20,000 to the organization – a loss that should be avoidable. That financial loss is in addition to the inconvenience to the patient and the overall hit to the quality of care for those affected.

In today’s health care environment, every hour counts. If a department lacks insight into critical needs, the wrong equipment will be serviced, resulting in patient backlogs detrimental to the bottom line. HTMs utilizing the latest asset management solutions are able to capture asset data in a standardized formatting protocol to identify these potential pain points. They can build out a cost-effective repository of information for tracking and managing all relevant asset information including location, service history, costs, contract, and warranty status as well as full life-cycle replacement forecasting.

This captured data serves as a reservoir of strategic business insights for the hospital leadership by defining optimized operational processes that result in a better patient flow and lower costs.

3. Optimizing the Workforce

What C-arms are my engineers working on? What’s their maintenance turnaround on MRIs versus CTs? What’s their efficiency on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month basis?

Data solutions serve as a looking glass for answers to these and other strategic questions surrounding the deployment of resources, a key component of true operational efficiency. With real-time access to equipment data, administrators can flag training gaps and identify which technicians are trained on what devices, providing insight into where departments are best served investing their training dollars.

Automation of the dispatch process also frees up valuable administration time as some solutions are able to recognize and auto-dispatch the proper engineer to the relevant equipment. Customized viewing also provides administrators with insights into deployment efficiencies critical to the organization, such as meantime to failure, engineer efficiency on an MRI fleet, or uptime efficiency measured over particular timeframes.

Ultimately, this marriage of automation and customization provides departments with actionable KPIs for staff planning and managing patient workflows.

Realizing your HTM Team’s Strategic Potential
In order for health care organizations to take full advantage of idle value lying in their HTM departments, they must first adopt a sea-change mentality. The idea of HTMs as an anchored cost of the organization has to be acknowledged as a remnant of outmoded thinking. Instead, it is time for the C-Suite to adopt the view that investment in HTM departments means a well-informed approach to strategic planning.

With asset management solutions in their quiver, HTMs feel empowered as business partners of the organization. And as they realize the potential of HTMs as players in the hospital’s strategic outlook, administrators will discover that HTMs can serve as a wellspring of actionable insights to meet and exceed quality, revenue, and staffing goals.