Clinical engineering departments in hospitals have an important role to play in assessing emerging healthcare technologies. But how can you prepare for the next wave of technology when you don’t have the time, tools and resources to do so?
Innovation in Healthcare
Healthcare is home to some of the most incredible innovations in the world today. And for good reason. Healthcare technologies such as robotics, 3D bioprinting and wearables now exist to help people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. These innovations not only offer new tools for enhancing existing models of care — they also have the potential to fundamentally change the way hospitals interact with their patients, creating more efficient, more personal and more effective models of care.
But these ground-breaking innovations won’t deploy themselves.
Healthcare organizations need to make strategic decisions around which healthcare technology trends to invest in – including when and where to invest in them. The problem is that those who are tasked with keeping up with the accelerating pace of technology innovation are already busy with the day-to-day challenges of managing the proliferating technology that’s already within the facility. This leaves hospitals at a disadvantage in 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.
Torn between responsibilities and priorities, HTM professionals naturally feel pressured to help resolve these daily technical crises, frequently responding to the “tyranny of the urgent” and leaving little time to evaluate emerging technologies.
Unfortunately, this reactive mindset is likely to continue to become increasingly prevalent with the proliferation of movable 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 in accessing and implementing 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 moveable 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, external 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:
- Eight emerging technologies poised to transform healthcare
- The 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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Originally published January 9, 2018, updated 10-14-2022