Two workers inspect medical scanning equipment

5 Key Questions to Ensure a Successful HTM Transition

 

By Gus Guevara

If your hospital is struggling to maintain its medical equipment – one of its largest capital assets – then deciding to entrust a healthcare technology management partner may be a smart choice. And for organizations that have long kept this function in-house, it might even be an easy choice. After all, by shedding this heavy responsibility to focus your limited resources on patient care, you’re gaining a team with leading-edge expertise to keep your equipment clean, reliable, repaired and available.

But in order to arrive at a better place than where you began, hospital leaders need to approach this developing relationship with a well-thought-out transition strategy. And for organizations having to untangle from an existing vendor – particularly one not happy to lose your business – the process should be deliberate to minimize the impact on staff and ensure patient care isn’t compromised.

Our TKA team knows that either scenario brings its own unique challenges. Over the years, as we’ve stepped in for in-house teams or taken over from under-performing providers, we’ve identified several key questions that COOs need to ask themselves and potential partners – and several steps to take early on in the process to avoid common pitfalls. To start, by partnering with us, you gain access to professionals and resources that you wouldn’t have on your own.

Do my leaders and board members – as well as the units that rely on this equipment (imaging, medical-surgical services, and general nursing) – support making this move?

Invest time in helping them understand the benefits they will gain from an external HTM vendor, including greater availability of well-maintained and disinfected equipment at lower costs. Involve your hospital leaders, from C-suite and key managers to department heads and clinicians, in evaluating potential partners. Use their insight – particularly from those on the frontline who will interact with the Biomed team – in developing and implementing the right HTM program for your organization. Their full support is critical to your long-term strategic success.

How do I make sure I’m signing the right contract, at the right amount, for the right level of service?

As the operational expert for your hospital, no one understands what goes into the day-to-day work as much as you. Scrutinize each proposal alongside existing OEM contracts to understand your needs and precisely what services and equipment are covered. Engage an HTM professional, if possible, in the review, and be sure to understand the conditions of satisfaction expected by your medical providers. Some COOs create grids to compare contract terms and scope of services, as well as key performance indicators that will be used to measure outcomes. By layering in covered items by the competing providers along with OEMs, you can identify gaps from the onset and avoid adding unforeseen items to the budget. As with any service contact, the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid. When you’re talking about equipment that is essential to saving lives, you want to conduct your due diligence.

How do I make sure my HTM partner is doing the job as expected?

If you’re like most hospital leaders, you’re choosing to outsource HTM services to enhance operating efficiency, manage expenses and deliver high-quality care. Your hospital leadership – CEO, CFO and/or COO – and HTM partner must agree to clearly define key performance indicators before you sign a contract. Those could include uptime, average turnaround time, regulatory compliance and recall work orders. Don’t forget to include a timeframe for achieving those goals, which should start by setting a baseline in the first 90 days and continue to improve over the contract period.

Can’t an HTM partner just take over where my equipment program is right now? Why do they need to make it more complicated?

Patient care should always be your No. 1 priority. Remember, particularly if this is your first experience with an outsourced partner, that HTM teams bring unparalleled expertise and best practices to your hospital, including more-effective tools and protocols. While you likely already have a system in place, a high-performing HTM provider will use an innovative Computerized Maintenance Management System to ensure compliance with regulatory standards, as well as track corrective maintenance on each piece of equipment. Your provider can help you decipher this data to determine whether to continue investing in a particular medical device or acquire a new one. Trying to extend the life of inefficient, unreliable equipment beyond a reasonable time puts patient care at significant risk.

Is there an ongoing strategic plan for replacing capital?

Maybe you don’t have that internally, but your HTM vendor can work in tandem with your leadership team to identify areas for investment. In fact, that should be part of your agreement. An effective plan starts with a comprehensive equipment inventory. As part of that exercise, your HTM team will document equipment details, including purchase dates, life expectancy and historical maintenance costs. A top-tier vendor will assess the life cycle of capital equipment annually, allowing you to have transparency on equipment conditions and to effectively plan for future investments.

At the end of the day, the biggest gain of working with an HTM partner is the confidence that expert biomedical technicians are taking care of your equipment – and giving your providers confidence in the technology that they need to care for their patients. For a step-by-step guide on selection and transitioning to an outsourced HTM provider, download our latest whitepaper, the Operational Excellence in Healthcare Technology Management: A playbook for optimizing your HTM program.

 

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