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How can HTM and OEMs work together most effectively?

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | May 06, 2019
Canon field service engineer talking
to a clinician
From the May 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Efficiency is a core value in healthcare delivery, and that means building up strong communication across different groups. We hear about the silos coming down across hospital departments, but these same principles apply to the different stakeholders in equipment maintenance.

Health technology management (HTM) professionals are tasked with maintaining equipment in-house for their facilities, but it’s not something they can do on their own. Increasingly, we’re seeing HTM departments and biomedical engineers forging stronger and more personalized relationships with the OEMs who built the equipment and can be called upon for more complex servicing.

Building these relationships is not always easy, however, and it’s not uncommon for HTM professionals and OEM service providers to lose sight of the fact that they’re in this thing together.

“I think oftentimes it's initially a bit adversarial,” said Jim Piepenbrink, deputy executive director of the AAMI Foundation. “Biomeds might think they don't need a service contract because if they're given the manuals, they think they could handle it. But you both need each other and you can both learn from each other.”

Courtesy is in your own best interest
The OEM field service engineer could be delayed in getting to the hospital if they are attending to another call at a hospital across town or in a rural area.

The on-site HTM may become frustrated after waiting a few hours, but Danielle McGeary, vice president of healthcare technology management at AAMI, stressed that nothing positive can come from that frustration no matter how justified it might be. The best thing to do is to remain friendly in order to maintain a good relationship with that field engineer, she said.

Issues can also arise if the on-site HTM isn’t willing to help the field engineer. If the field engineer is missing a tool that is needed, the on-site HTM should assist with that if they can.

“From my experience, while there might appear to be tension at first, the OEM field service engineer and the on-site technician typically end up getting along really well,” said McGeary. “If the field engineer is friendly, always wants to help, and is reliable, the on-site HTMs will like them and they will have a great relationship.”

Some of the best relationships she has seen are when the on-site HTM feels comfortable calling the field engineer to have them walk the on-site staff through preliminary troubleshooting steps.

What’s in your contract?
Not having a structured service agreement or contract could put a hospital lower on an OEM’s priority list if that manufacturer has other customers who are paying a premium for more responsive service. In a situation like this, the HTM department may have to determine whether or not it makes sense for them to sign a similar contract or else plan for potentially slower response time.

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