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Bringing a higher standard to standardization at AAMI

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 14, 2018
Health IT HTM
From the August 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Responding to a down MR scanner prior to 2015 could take as long as four hours at Care New England health system, placing stroke patients and those with other conditions at greater risk of death or serious injury.

Addressing this issue today though is just “an elevator ride away,” according to Jillyan Morano, regional director for operations at ABM, who elaborated on the efforts of her and her team to reform and standardize the running of the Rhode Island provider at the AAMI 2018 conference and Expo in Long Beach, California.

“Downtime, repeat calls and call backs were high,” she said. “For downtime, you’d have to wait for someone to come in. It could be a four-hour response time. Now, technicians are trained or on-site service engineers take care of imaging equipment. You just need to run up the stairs or go up the elevator to address the problem. We find that’s turning around the device quicker.”

The system initially consisted of four separate hospitals, all of which were running their CE programs under different forms of management. While Butler Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island relied on an HTM provided by ABM, the in-house CE program at Kent Hospital was made up of two technicians, one manager and one administrative assistant. Another third-party serviced Memorial Hospital.

These variations led a difference in the level of performances and types of services at each with no standardized process of communication among all stakeholders, burdening the hospital with unnecessary expenses for service contracts; disorganization in filling out order requests; lack of management for equipment inventories; and no common approach for training for staff at all four facilities.

In evaluating all service contracts, ABM created a system of policies for keeping tabs on vendors, service reports and the quality of work performed. This included establishing communication among different departments, particularly between CE and IT, and establishing greater transparency in budgeting by bringing the costs for equipment maintenance under clinical engineering.

It also worked with stakeholders to establish guidelines for predicting and communicating the costs of maintenance, and introduced training for self-performance to reduce the expense of services provided by vendors.

“Something may break. They may have to borrow and replace something. But for the most part, I can tell you what’s going to come out of warranty in the next year and we already know what we’re going to do with it," said Morano. "We know if we’re going to pick another service contract or we know if we’re going to self-perform on that. We can be transparent with the CFO to let them know how we think their going to finish at the end of the year on cost for medical equipment.”

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