Clinical Engineering Challenges Amid Emerging Technologies

Posted: January 9, 2018

A futuristic robotic machine and arm composited with a data stream and the word "Security"

Hospital clinical engineering teams have an important role to play in assessing emerging health care technologies. But how can you prepare for the next wave of tech if you don’t have the time and tools to do so?

Innovation in Health Care

Health care is home to some of the most incredible innovations in the world today. And for good reason. Technologies such as robotics, 3D bioprinting, and telemedicine now exist to help people live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. These innovations not only offer new tools for delivering care, but they start to challenge the traditional models for how hospitals interact with their patients. Unfortunately, these ground-breaking innovations can also impede progress at your health care facility. In many instances, those that are asked to evaluate new technologies are faced with mounting pressures and workloads. This leaves hospitals a step behind when it comes to knowing what cutting-edge technologies might transform care in their facility.

The Struggle Between Innovation and Stagnation

Hospitals make strategic investments in new technology based on recommendations from the in-house professionals best-suited to monitor innovation and make investment decisions (e.g., hospital IT leaders and clinical engineering or healthcare technology management (HTM) teams). However, these team members often spend a disproportionate amount of time on lower-value day-to-day tasks such as searching for equipment, repairing functional equipment, and managing vendors.

Emerging Technologies Transforming Health Care and the Impact on Clinical Engineering

Torn between responsibilities, healthcare technology management professionals, naturally, feel pressured to help resolve these daily technical crises, frequently responding to the “tyranny of the urgent” and leaving little time to actually evaluate emerging technologies. This reactive mindset is likely to continue to become increasingly prevalent with the proliferation of moveable medical equipment (MME) and increased intelligence of hospital systems. As a result, the hospital continues to experience delays in making important strategic investments in new innovations.

Reduce Your Clinical Engineering Staff Burdens and Increase Their Value

This delay to access and implement new technology is leading an increased number of clinical engineering leaders to seek strategies for reducing the burden of day-to-day tasks, such as movable medical equipment (MME) repair, without adding significant cost to operating budgets. In addition, hospitals nationwide are expanding clinical engineering job descriptions to include “emerging technology assessment and growth strategies.”

Internally, clinical engineering experts are implementing strategies to streamline operations. One such strategy is to improve talent acquisition and retention issues by turning to supplemental biomedical staff providers. These supplemental biomed providers can respond quickly with on-site technical talent during periods of peak demand. Another proven strategy is to alleviate administrative burden. This is achieved by consolidating service contracts, freeing staff to focus more on strategic tasks and dramatically cut service costs.

The infographic, seen in part below, and available for download here, explores:

  • Emerging technologies poised to transform health care
  • Challenges facing HTM teams, and
  • Solutions to free your HTM staff to drive more value to your hospital or IDN

With the right clinical engineering strategy and the right equipment in place (after a thorough vetting process), your facility or IDN will be better positioned to improve the patient experience and outcomes.

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Partial image of the Agiliti Emerging Technologies Transforming Healthcare infographic


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