As healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, we routinely report on many items. I have reported to environment of care (EOC) committees for years, and it seems that we report the same old numbers, such as preventive maintenance (PM ) completion, unable to locate, and recall rates. And while these numbers are still very valid and important, I wonder what else should we focus on and report.
A little background: I am married to a nurse so I get to hear about all kinds of things that are important to the nurses. She knows more about biomed functions and metrics than your average chief nursing officer; believe me, PM completion rates are not on the top of her things to worry about in the patient care environment. She and her clinical colleagues care about having equipment available at all times to care for their patients (assuming the equipment is in good working order).
And trust me: Do not use or report “user abuse” or “user error” in front of her. She and her nurses cringe at those terms. Consider instead “use error” or “use damage.” It’s her advice and I completely agree with her. (I know what is best for me.)
As an HTM professional, I understand that having up-to-date stickers and PMs are important to the well-being of medical devices, and they satisfy regulatory requirements, but such steps do not really tell the complete story of how HTM is performing. Are we really helping the hospital be the best it could be? Having 100% life-support completions and above 95% completion on the remaining equipment does not mean that all of it is working well, nor does it mean that the biomed department is doing all it can to support the hospitals goals.
Let’s imagine what could help us tell a broader and more complete story. Let’s start with a medical equipment management plan (MEMP) that could include any performance indicator (PI) we could measure and improve. We love hard and fast numbers in the HTM community, but remember I am married to a nurse. Let’s say, for example, we could somehow measure and monitor healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) as it pertains to biomed. HAIs are directly associated with hospital reimbursements and are very important to hospital leadership, but how could biomeds measure that and report the numbers? Good question, huh? I feel we could start by compiling hand-washing stats or glove-wearing numbers. Plus, how we clean equipment, or how we receive equipment, could be tracked. Such numbers would be helpful metrics to report and share with hospital leadership.
How about patient satisfaction, which are also key to reimbursements? I am not sure how this could be related to biomed, but I am sure there is a way, as the facility does track those numbers. Another idea would be customer satisfaction. What do our customers think of us? This is a bit easier, and most of us already do this through surveys and face-to-face meeting with our hospital colleagues. Customer satisfaction is also a good indicator of how the department is performing, and it is easy to measure and monitor.
Other ideas I have would be to measure employee training,, competencies, and retention. Again, these numbers would be easy to measure and monitor, and would tell a story about how the biomed department is doing.
All in all, I would love to see us use all the hard numbers and soft numbers to tell a more complete story about HTM, its role, and performance in any hospital. A combination of the numbers presented above could tell an interesting tale if we are brave enough to look deep into the woods to find the real and complete story.
Try to picture yourself at your next EOC meeting reporting on something new. What is that metric you are reporting? What ideas do you have? Dream big and be creative because we have lots of room for improvement and growth. Please respond with your ideas, or let us know what you are doing that is a little outside the box.
Donald Armstrong, CBET, CHTM, works at Stanford Health Care in California. He is a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council.