September 9, 2016

Raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar: Your radiology department has a scanner from “Manufacturer A” because that’s the manufacturer the radiology director wanted. Down the hallway, the folks running the ER have a CT from “Manufacturer B” because they’ve always used “B”, and that’s what they favor. Down in oncology we find a CT from “Manufacturer C”, which is that department’s preference.

Same equipment, different manufacturers in different departments.

If this scenario is the reality in your facility, you’re likely losing a lot of money and limiting your clinicians’ productivity considerably.  Let us clarify.

You’re forced to buy supplies and consumables from a variety of vendors

Let’s say, whatever the equipment is, it needs recurring consumables to go with it. Since their manufacturers differ, you can’t consolidate your spend and drive costs down. Similarly, you have little to no negotiation power when buying one-off parts or supplies.

You lose clinical staff mobility

You have dedicated people, trained on their respective equipment, working in various departments. Then one day a clinician who typically runs the “Manufacturer A” device gets sick or quits her job. You could move a clinician from another area to cover that need, except that person is only trained on the “Manufacturer B” device.

Without standardized equipment, you can’t easily move people around, and the mobility of your clinical staff is greatly diminished.

Your put patients at greater (and unnecessary) risk

Another ramification of the above scenario is the unnecessary risks it brings to patients. When clinicians are only trained on equipment “A”, they are more prone to making mistakes when attending to patients utilizing equipment of a different manufacturer.

Your total cost of ownership skyrockets

One department’s preferred equipment may be exceedingly expensive to maintain, costing twice as much as another make down the hall. That’s because the purchaser didn’t weigh the equipment’s total cost of ownership (cost of capital, cost to run the device, training, supplies, utilities, service, failure rate, residual disposal value) when examining the purchase price tag.

This is one of the many reasons why no equipment should be purchased, ever, without data-driven input from the clinical engineering department.

You have to train your clinical engineering staff on more devices

The more equipment manufacturers that exist in your facility, the more you have to train your clinical engineering staff so they can service all of them. That’s a lot of resources you wouldn’t have to spend if equipment were more standardized.

Your main obstacle and solution

Perhaps the biggest barriers to medical equipment standardization are personal preferences and experiences, which drive emotional buying decisions in many organizations.

That’s understandable; we all have personal preferences. But when you let those preferences trump data, you’ll likely end up with one or more of the money-sucking scenarios outlined above. Plus, you may also be stuck with costly equipment and service contracts that are completely unnecessary or not aligned with organization-wide goals.

In our next issue, we’ll walk you through ways to implement evidence-based, data-driven capital planning in your organization, opening the door for data to multiply your profits, investments, and productivity.