As the number of people hospitalized with Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, healthcare technology management (HTM) departments will play an increasingly critical role in addressing this crisis and its strain on the healthcare system. Here are three actions that HTM professionals can take to help, right now:
1. Identify your ventilator and large volume pump (LVP) inventory across your health system and track those that are in use and those that can be made available to other hospitals.
Ventilators and LVPs are in high demand to treat critical COVID-19 patients but in short supply. It is likely that different hospitals within your health system will have higher or lower demand at different times. Utilizing your enterprise computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and working with your clinical and/or EHR teams, an HTM department should be able to identify how many vents and LVPs each hospital has and which ones are in use. Unless your EHR is tracking vent usage and your CMMS is integrated with your EHR, this may need to be done manually a couple times a day. With that information, your administration can move vents and LVPs to hospitals that are most in need at the time.
2. Document and monitor that all medical devices are cleaned after patient use.
Proper cleaning of devices that may be infected before they move to other parts of the hospital or are used for another patient now takes on a new level of importance. While most hospitals assume that environmental services (or whichever team is responsible for cleaning the equipment) is doing this, most do not document and monitor that this is being done at the device level. As the owner of the device inventory, HTM professionals are positioned to track this important task in the CMMS. If your CMMS has service request functionality that allows users to request HTM service through their computer, you can also use this functionality to have clinicians identify when the device is ready to be cleaned.
3. Identify other potential sources of needed equipment and be ready to call upon that company quickly if needed.
Most likely your administration has already asked you to do this, but if not, work with your clinicians to identify which clinical devices your hospital may need more of if the disease spreads in your community and reach out to potential suppliers to make sure they have enough inventory. Work out the contract before it’s an emergency. Have your processes established for your HTM team to quickly check in, inventory, and safety check the new equipment when it arrives at the hospital.
I am sure many of you also have implemented your own great ideas at your hospitals, and now is the time to share them. Please comment on this blog post with any suggestions you have that HTM can do to help combat this disease.
Based on my 20 years working in an HTM department—and now working with them nationwide—the one (and only) thing I am sure of during this very strange and dangerous time is that all of you in HTM will rise to the occasion and do what must be done… just as you always have.
Heidi Horn vice president of Global Enablement-Healthcare at Nuvolo and a member of the AAMI Board of Directors. Horn formerly led the HTM department at a large health system.