March 30, 2017

If your clinical engineering (CE) program is a typical one, you’re paying a boatload each year in external service contracts, usually to equipment manufacturers. It’s the way things were done for ages, and many healthcare facilities remain contract-dependent, hemorrhaging millions in CE costs, year after year.

In fact, because many of those expenses are spread throughout many departments and miscoded in the general ledger, actual CE costs for a hospital that’s contract-dependent tends to be 30-50% higher than what’s showing up in your CE reports today. It’s a pattern we’ve seen in hundreds of hospitals.

But there’s a better way, as more than 1,800 U.S. facilities have found: Breaking free from service contracts by building internal staff and capabilities, at a fraction of contract costs.

The outcome: a drastic reduction in CE costs and a more engaged, skilled staff that’s able to respond faster (read: less downtime, higher patient throughput), plus extend the life of your medical equipment, years after the manufacturer stops supporting it.

When looking for savings opportunities, hospitals commonly overlook investment in in-house service capabilities as the surest route to independence from external contracts. By contrast, hospitals that have made strides toward CE self-sufficiency think beyond modality training and consider all the ways their technicians can employ operations metrics to drive up equipment ROI.

To be clear, modality training is certainly needed, and should happen frequently. But a strong CE training program should also do the following:

  • Let organization-wide goals, equipment performance data and forecasts guide what training is needed, and when.
  • Encourage cross-training and knowledge-sharing among “sister” or partner facilities.
  • Opportunities for employees to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities.
  • Plan for internal promotions and successions, empowering staff to advance their careers and eliminating costly attrition and disengagement.

Of course, each organization is different. Yet, many of the hospitals we’ve helped transition toward greater CE self-sufficiency have reaped millions, annually, in reduced operating expenses and medical equipment capital spend—all while delivering increased uptime, speedier repairs, and extending the life of their equipment. Better yet, their systems are evidence-based and replicable in hospitals of all sizes.