How do you know when to replace medical equipment? Scott Skinner, system director of clinical engineering for Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY, helped develop a clinical equipment replacement plan for his facilities. In this issue of AAMI News, Skinner, a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council, talks about his experience—and why he occasionally wears a kilt.
How does your facility’s equipment replacement process work?
We launched a cross-functional effort that involved nursing, clinical engineering, and material management to revamp the way we replace clinical equipment. We came up with a set of objective criteria such as risk, function, and standard of care. We basically run the device prioritization process based on those criteria. This approach has streamlined the equipment replacement planning process.
Clinical engineering is very instrumental in the development of the prioritized equipment list every year. By and large, our recommendations are accepted by hospital management.
How can a replacement plan help a hospital save money?
Obviously, in today’s environment we have a limited amount of capital available to invest. What this process does is try to ensure we make those capital investments in the areas that have the most need. People don’t always consider how replacing equipment can help an organization meet key strategies. If you have technology that is out of date and less efficient, replacing it with equipment that has a higher up-time can save money.
What criteria do you think healthcare technology management (HTM) departments often overlook when evaluating whether to replace equipment?
To me there is one: standard of care. A lot of departments tend to focus on black and white attributes like a device’s age.
But a device’s standard of care is very critical. For example, say an old ventilator is working just fine, but a new device has improved alarm technologies. That might increase patient safety, and therefore prompt a replacement.
Your department merged with information technology (IT) in 2008. How did the transition go?
We were apprehensive at first. I think even as we became a part of IT, it remained to be seen what value we would offer. But the merger elevated our position in the organization. We found out that our job is pretty similar to IT. Both departments support very complex technologies and systems.
How did that merger impact your department’s prominence?
The relationship to IT means we are better plugged in strategically within the organization. The facility is converting to a new electronic medical record (EMR) system right now. I think because we are part of IT, clinical engineering has been involved since the beginning of that project. It has helped us develop our medical device integration strategy. We’ve got a seat at the table.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve played the Great Highland Bagpipe for about five years now and performed on holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.
CLICK HERE to read the AAMI News: April 2012 online article.