Medical Devices are Evolving, and How They are Managed Needs to Evolve, Too
By David Klumpe
David Klumpe, PharmD is president of clinical asset management of TriMedx of Indianapolis, IN.
Technological advancements in healthcare come at a rapid pace. While there are benefits to this, technological evolution can also bring challenges for healthcare systems that strive to run efficiently while maintaining quality care.
The management of medical devices is one such challenge. As devices become more complicated and increasingly get connected to the internet, how they are best managed becomes more complex. Optimum-use decisions are guided by lifecycle factors and cybersecurity risks, not the age of a device on a spreadsheet list or other simple factors.
To best meet the future of technology and retire inefficient practices, health systems can employ a clinical asset management solution to optimize their device fleets, increase staff productivity, and improve patient care.
Let’s talk about inventory accuracy and why detailed visibility into your fleet is the core element to driving efficiencies at scale.
The fundamental task of inventory visibility is knowing exactly what medical devices you have and where they are located. Healthcare staff lose valuable time and become frustrated searching for a device. Are the insulin pumps in this storage closet on this floor? Or on another floor? While caregivers search, patient care suffers.
But inventory visibility is at the heart of capital expenditure decisions, maintenance choices, and cybersecurity needs. A clinical asset management solution can provide real-time visibility and deep insights into the status of a healthcare system’s fleet. Software algorithms can help optimize asset life and disposal timing. By analyzing age, repair history, parts availability, amount of inventory, usage patterns, FDA recalls, cybersecurity risks, and other factors, clinical asset management solutions can establish the true useful life of a medical device and guide decisions on whether it should be replaced.
Perhaps instead of being replaced the device can be upgraded, typically a less-expensive choice than replacement. Clinical asset management teams can weigh factors such as device age, condition, and options for software and hardware upgrades to recommend options.
Visibility also gives insight into which devices should be disposed. Unused equipment still requires maintenance. A better option may lie in selling the equipment to other health providers.
Best use also entails making sure devices are available at the right place and at the right time, at the unit, hospital, and health system level. Meeting demand with existing assets maximizes revenue opportunities while avoiding additional capital expenditures such as medical equipment rental expenses.
Few recent technological advances present as much risk as the internet and the internet of things. The slew of rising cyberattacks with more profound effects is drawing the attention of consumers, businesses, and governments alike.
The threat to medical devices is intensifying as well. At first, the risk of connected medical devices was a vulnerable gateway into a health system where hackers could steal or hold ransom financial, patient, and other sensitive records. In recent years, the threat escalated to target medical devices themselves and render them inoperable. Worse now is the potential for far more maliciousness. Earlier this year, McAfee researchers discovered vulnerabilities in two types of infusion pumps that might allow hackers to deliver double doses of medicine to unsuspecting patients.
Cybersecurity provided by clinical asset management solutions can monitor, detect, prevent, and respond to cyberthreats in real-time. But what can be particularly valuable is a cybersecurity assessment for each device. Manufacturers at some point often no longer support a device, so a patch may be unavailable. What a clinical asset management team needs to know is the seriousness of the vulnerability. The cybersecurity assessment can evaluate the medical device profile, device behavior, and potential impact to patient safety and drive recommendations on whether to replace, upgrade, or dispose of the device to best prevent deadly cybersecurity downfalls.
A key component of the real-time status assessment of every medical device in a fleet is avoiding downtime. When equipment is down, hospital efficiencies suffer. When equipment is down, caregivers become frustrated because doing their job becomes more complicated and time-consuming. When equipment is down, patients grow more irritable with the delays, and quality of service suffers.
A modern clinical asset management solution uses powerful, real-time analytics to optimize device usage and prevent downtime. Spreadsheets or databases provide only a list, widening the risk that device upkeep falls through the cracks. A clinical asset management solution, on the other hand, provides a lifecycle and cybersecurity assessment of every device in the system to maximize device efficiencies in a fleet today and tomorrow.