Two workers inspect medical scanning equipment

What Your CMMS Should Be Telling You


By Gus Guevara

While the biomeds who take care of your hospital’s medical devices are the heart of your HTM program, your management program is the operation’s central nervous system.

A well-oiled Computerized Maintenance Management System, more commonly known as your CMMS, starts with teeing up devices for preventive care and tracks regulatory compliance, which is a big responsibility for any HTM team. Developers often offer modules that allow you to add greater functionality. Of course, the more you integrate your CMMS with core hospital systems, the more effective it can be – initiating a purchase order, for instance, and having it execute flawlessly via your supply-chain platform.

A custom version, such as the TeamNet platform commissioned by TKA, augments productivity by generating critical financial and operational metrics to use in gauging your program’s overall health. An accompanying mobile app allows always-on-the-go biomeds to close work orders, document equipment repairs, order parts and more from any corner of the hospital.

If you’re only using your CMMS to keep an eye on regulatory tasks mandated by CMS and The Joint Commission, you’re missing a major opportunity to better serve your hospital. TKA uses TeamNet to track the health of each device across its life cycle. Keeping equipment up and running is important, but providing good data to justify replacement of equipment and support broader capital planning initiatives is mutually important to hospitals facing ever-tightening budgets.

Starting with the basics

A CMMS should house specifications on every device used across the hospital.

In general, you can expect to dedicate about 80% of your CMMS to compliance, while its remaining capacity supports daily operations and productivity.

Within the compliance functionality, you’ll be able to process preventive maintenance (PM) documentation, vendor alerts and equipment recalls – all important details about equipment uptime as you strive to meet regulator expectations of 100%. Granted, you want to be able to easily access documentation during an audit, when regulators will be looking for perfect PM completion rates for your high-risk equipment, which is also your hospital’s most-used therapeutic and diagnostic equipment, and see proof of regular equipment reporting to your organization’s safety committee.

The regulators need precise device and performance information to analyze what the potential patient impact would be if the equipment fails – and what is the likelihood that would happen, based on your HTM records. They input different pieces of data to assign risk scores, ensuring that your HTM team focuses on the highest-risk equipment. Most CMMS programs will keep effective digital documental and ensure you’re providing the right reports to the right audiences.

Value comes beyond those basics

The balance of your system should be deployed to track everything from simple tasks (think: staff assignments) to complex calculations (equipment replacement strategies based on end-of-life or financial triggers). The bare minimum functions to plug into your CMMS are:

  • Basic equipment data, including manufacturer, model, where it’s physically located and serial number.
  • Acquisition date, when it was purchased, its cost and warranty details.
  • Risk-assessment analysis, which highlights high-risk equipment
  • Vendor information (i.e. OEM service contracts), including contact, annual contract costs and vendor service reports.
  • Cybersecurity details, including IP address and any passwords.
  • Ongoing maintenance activities, such as PM completions, work orders, recall information, repair costs and dates of service.

As a best practice, TKA operates TeamNet at a central support location, as we drive consistent efficiencies and support across multiple facilities, such as a hospital and its supporting outpatient clinics. Those on-site managers are responsible for ongoing data analysis and reporting, based on both regulatory needs and client expectations. That central oversight further guarantees we are inputting data consistently and completely.

Going several steps beyond a basic CMMS program, TeamNet provides specific tools that support financial management and budget analysis. We load our annual budget before the fiscal year starts, so we can quickly see the hospital’s comprehensive HTM spend to date at any moment. We also have a tool to integrate purchase orders, so a parts request from our biomeds repairing a device out on a hospital floor goes straight, via the app, to the supply chain department.

Another feature is contract information, as some more-sophisticated devices require OEM service for their first years due to proprietary technology. We can track and monitor contracts through TeamNet, which also monitors costs over that item’s life so we can calculate its financial impact. Many commonly used CMMS programs don’t have that ability, which means you can’t easily track the costs and impact of OEM contracts as part of your hospital’s overall HTM costs.

What your CMMS should be telling you

The most important thing to understand about an effective CMMS program is that it’s a two-way street. You build the power and capabilities of this system, again, what is akin to your own central nervous system, by the quality, accuracy and timeliness of the information you input. You want robust details about every device, whether it’s in hourly demand or less frequently used, starting with its initial service date, PM and CM records, parts replacements and biomed notes, which provide clues and insights to guide the next work order you get on that device.

Very quickly, you’re building up robust data that you need to pull out and engage with to ensure your HTM program is optimized. You want to track productivity – do you get more work orders in a week than your biomeds can handle, so equipment uptime is suffering? You want to track spending – are you constantly replacing the same part on one device, signaling you might be better off in the long term to replace that with a more efficient, reliable version? You want to monitor how your older equipment, which ages faster than you might expect – how close is it toward expected end-of-service and end-of-life dates, so you can advise your capital planning team when it’s time to reserve funds for a big-ticket purchase?

While safety reporting is required, our TKA team advises the monthly budgeting and month-end variance reporting are just as critical to ensure financial control. As an extension, reports that support or redirect the hospital’s capital replacement plan should be delivered to key leaders responsible for making those decisions.

That’s the biggest takeaway: Your CMMS has stories to tell about your program’s performance, and you can use those insights to adapt and optimize as every effective HTM program embraces continuous improvement that enhances patient care and safety. However, you can’t rely on your CMMS to tell you those different things. You need to proactively seek out those insights, and, more importantly, be ready to use that data and engage with hospital leaders to explore and implement meaningful change.

Having seen many CMMS versions over 30 years, I certainly am partial to TKA’s TeamNet. Not only did we help inform its design, but we have a robust collaboration with the developer, who’s only a phone call away when we consider a new feature – and he can quickly tweak the program to deliver that capability. This is a dynamic resource that helps our HTM teams work at their best today and gives us the learnings to refine and adapt to changing needs in the future. Reach out to TKA and find out how a resource like TeamNet could reinvent and power your HTM program for the better.

Gus Guevara is TKA’s regional director for Southern California.



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