Special report: Purchasing committees place medical devices on trial

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | October 15, 2012
From the October 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

To further confirm health care professionals charged with making purchasing decisions are properly trained to evaluate patient safety, health care institutions like Florida Hospital Flagler have biomed technicians and clinical personnel thoroughly review all potential devices and information before they decide to trial a device or even consider it for purchase.

“[Biomed technicians and clinical personnel] have to participate in skills labs provided by our education department on how to use the devices,” says Griffin. “During these skills labs, vendors come in and demonstrate their devices and train the nurses and other clinicians on how to use the device.”

Trialling devices better pinpoints any potential safety issues. Afterward, if patient safety is still a concern, the device is typically eliminated from the clinical trial.

The security of patients’ private health information is also essential when approving certain devices, notes Alfonso Alfonso, director of biomedical engineering at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Texas. Criteria involves ensuring data encryption is an option; that the device is password protected; checking if the device taps into the organization’s network infrastructure and if it captures, stores and transmits data; and observing if the device is mobile or has a permanent stationary install.

Staff safety is another important consideration
“When it comes down to something like needles, employee safety is also a determinant,” says Donna Drummond, senior VP and chief administrative officer at the Lake Success, N.Y.-based North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System.

Not only do hospitals consider patient and staff safety with new product placements, but they also continue to monitor quality to ensure products currently in use maintain that level of reliability.

“If quality issues arise, we make sure the issue is corrected promptly, or replaced with an acceptable product,” says Ron Collins, VP of The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s (UT Medical Center) supply chain, based in Knoxville, Tenn. “Product improvements are always being made; we strive to make changes quickly for the optimum benefit of our patients.”

Understandably, no medical device is considered too small or insignificant to escape the purchasing committee’s biting wrath. For instance, blood pressure cuffs recently underwent some intense scrutiny at UT Medical Center when an existing vendor developed an eminent quality problem. The vendor, who was called in for a review, was unable to quickly resolve the issue.

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