When the words “healthcare infrastructure” are mentioned, oftentimes elements such as licensed healthcare professionals, clinical support personnel, policies & procedures, etc., come to mind. While these are critical elements to the infrastructure of healthcare, we must also remember the critical role that equipment plays in not only healthcare infrastructure, but also in quality outcomes of healthcare.
Case in point, COVID-19 displayed a harsh, yet honest reality of healthcare systems and the “reliability” of their equipment. Some of the challenges ranged from inability to perform the needed tasks, equipment not operating at maximum capacity due to lack of maintenance, and/or incompatible equipment to fulfill the needs of the organization.
The areas of opportunity above highlight the importance of investigating the long-term negative outcomes associated with acquiring ineffective healthcare equipment. It emphasizes the significance of choosing outcomes-driven healthcare partners dedicated to delivering quality patient care.
When healthcare equipment doesn’t function properly or isn’t maintained by professionals, the result can be as simple as a 5-minute delay in scheduling or as serious as a system crash and/or failure, which leads to downtime. Downtime is basically the time when equipment cannot be used or isn’t accessible, which has a negative influence on productivity as well as patient care, both resulting in poor healthcare outcomes.
The right technology and the right partner can significantly decrease downtime. Predictive maintenance and remote monitoring are two great ways to do this. These activities help identify potential equipment issues before they escalate into critical problems, allowing for timely repairs and preventing unplanned downtime. Even with these features in place, healthcare facilities cannot be guaranteed that their equipment will not go down. A comprehensive preventative maintenance program is essential to reducing downtime. Creating and adhering to regular maintenance schedules helps identify and address potential problems before they cause significant issues.
2. Overly Frequent Battery Charging
Using old and ineffective equipment has a direct influence on efficiency. The majority of portable equipment is integrated with lithium-ion batteries, which have limited charging cycles before the battery starts wearing down. So, when the equipment is outdated and batteries aren’t charged or managed on time, the devices require more charging. The end result can be an increase in the number of charging cycles, which tends to degrade the battery quickly, causing the battery’s lifespan to be reduced.
Selecting workstations and carts that are built with DC-optimized lithium batteries are safe for patients and caregivers alike. These batteries can contribute to significant power efficiencies including an increased runtime of (potentially up to 20-25% increase) which leads to greater uptime. The total cost of ownership will go down as well due to the battery’s low electrical consumption and ease of disposal. The clinical staff’s job satisfaction will go up because you will be giving them access to a solution that will make their job more efficient and allow them to focus on patient care, not the technology.
3. Inability to Access Meds or Supplies When Needed
Healthcare settings rely on computer systems for various critical tasks such as managing patient records, medication administration, and supply delivery. However, if these systems malfunction, it can result in delivery errors, delayed medication administration, incomplete documentation of services provided by clinicians, and other potential issues that impact patient care. Moreover, when medications, supplies, and essential technologies are not easily accessible, it can also lead to similar adverse outcomes.
In the operating room, for example, rapid and secure access to controlled substances, medications, and supplies is vital for every surgical case. It is crucial for the pharmacy to have proper control over dispensing medications while ensuring the OR team can access them quickly, effortlessly, and without delays. Utilizing carts, workstations, and other equipment in the OR should contribute to establishing an efficient and safe operating room environment.
4. Bad Ergonomics Leading To Injury
Medical/healthcare equipment issues aren’t restricted to just computer systems and other important devices. As a matter of fact, poorly designed keyboards, ineffectively adjusted chairs, and inaccurate monitor height can lead to musculoskeletal issues. The most common issues include neck strain and back pain, which is common in healthcare professionals. Without proper, ergonomically designed equipment, the risk of such injuries increases. On the other hand, if patients don’t have access to the correct beds and wheelchairs, it can impact their skin causing issues such as pressure ulcers, which result in extended hospital stays, increased healthcare cost, and poor health outcomes.
As patient records become digitized, nurses spend approximately 20% of their shift at standing workstations. Offering them comfortable equipment not only enhances clinician satisfaction but also reduces costs associated with missed shifts and downtime for the facility. Ensuring that the equipment is adjustable, easy to move, and lightweight can also minimize the risk of injuries and make the nursing staff more effective.
5. Failure to Take Advantage of Free Warranty Fixes
Most healthcare equipment has warranties or service agreements, which allows hospitals and clinics to receive regular maintenance, needed part replacement and/or repairs for a specific time, or even sometimes equipment upgrades as new technology is developed. However, this benefit is not always utilized at its full capacity. If organizations delay checking equipment for damage, or postpone regular maintenance, the result can be voided warranties.
Ongoing fleet maintenance options that actively monitor and manage the technology through its lifecycle, allow healthcare facilities to get more use out of the solutions so they only have to replace what they need to. Live and local customer service and technical support goes hand-in-hand with this. Access to teams that provide personalized service, attention to detail, and proper urgency when addressing your concerns can save a lot of time and money in the long run.
The Bottom Line
The value and significance equipment and technology plays within the healthcare infrastructure is monumental. The implementation of practices such as partnering with a patient-focused equipment supply company, ensuring regular maintenance on equipment, and leveraging equipment that fits the needs of the population you serve can drastically improve organizational workflow, patient experiences, and health outcomes.