The NHS is suffering a backlog of aging medical equipment, and with a reported deficit of £960m for the 2017/18 financial year, the estates team will need to take responsibility for maintaining and managing the risk of these assets on a wafer-thin budget.
With patient safety as paramount, the estates team’s goal is to provide clinical staff with the support they need to deliver the best possible service to patients – specifically to ensure that all equipment is fully functioning where and when needed. Underperforming assets have life-threatening impact on healthcare services, and reactive purchasing due to sudden failure leads to loss of saving opportunities. The good news is that technology to track medical and non-medical assets has become more advanced and easier to use than 10 years ago, providing the tools to extend equipment life, reduce downtime and lower maintenance costs.
The introduction of the Scan4Safety programme at several test sites has proved a significant success, introducing a series of barcodes on medicines, implantable devices and surgical tools. This helps staff quickly and easily track each patient through their hospital journey, helping to identify the performance of equipment used in treatments and save medical staff hours of time in finding and re-ordering stocks. Barcodes can be used in the same way for medical asset management using computer aided facilities management (CAFM), sharing the same tags. As there is no clash between the two systems, asset barcoding can be used to extend the reach of Scan4Safety within a healthcare trust or become the foundation for a later deployment of the system. Using a mobile phone or tablet device, engineers can scan the barcode through the CAFM app, providing them instant access to insight such as asset history or outstanding maintenance required. Jobs captured by the help desk can be prioritised by the system and allocated automatically to engineers with the requisite skills and availability via their smart device, improving first time fix rates and efficiency. Some apps also offer uninterrupted online/offline access in areas with no Wi-Fi or mobile signal to ensure work can continue in areas like basements or remote sites.
CAFM software manages and supports a range of medical assets such as ventilators, X-ray machines or CT scanners, capturing long-term maintenance expenditure and schedules. Estates managers are better able to understand asset performance, predict future spend and modify maintenance schedules based on the equipment output. This wealth of information helps manage risk by removing the guesswork element of scheduling and also provides a strong basis for investment decisions and business cases – removing the element of ‘he who shouts the loudest gets the most’ to ensure fairness and more strategic spending.
While an increase in NHS funding has been promised to help alleviate the overwhelming demand on services, with the economic uncertainty over Brexit, estates teams would be wise to implement as many efficiency measures as possible to help their trusts weather this storm.
For more information about Service Works Global’s CAFM software, QFM, visit www.swg.com/types/medical-device-management/.
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