If done right, clinical asset management can save money, deter cyberattacks, and help during a crisis. Here’s how.

By Dave Klumpe

No longer are the days when clinical asset management consisted of a clipboard and a checklist. Now, next-generation technologies track, manage, and maintain equipment at a pace consistent with how the healthcare industry moves. These new tools provide comprehensive, ongoing assessment, making it easier for hospital administrators to organize and maintain their equipment.

Hospitals must always be on top of their assets. Clinical asset management solutions assist in monitoring the quantity and quality of medical equipment, their current condition, and any potential risks, such as updated FDA recalls or possible openings for cyberattacks. After all, health organizations remain a popular target of cyber actors.

Many reasons exist to consider a comprehensive clinical asset management solution. By collecting dozens of data points, the technology paints a holistic picture of device inventory. Information such as service history, manufacture date, cybersecurity posture, and even device manufacturer support and downtime can guide decisions on how to best manage and maintain devices for the benefit of administrators, clinicians, and patients alike.

Protecting Against Cyberattacks

For hospitals, a cyberattack can be devastating. And cybercriminals know this—targeting hospitals heavily due to their access points and the potential payoff.

The evolution of medical devices presents additional risk. According to the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, nearly seven out of 10 medical devices are projected to be connected to an online network in the next few years.

The stakes are mounting. “Attacks on healthcare are increasing in volume, variety, and impact — with consequences that now include the loss of life,” Joshua Corman, founder of the cybersecurity advocacy group I Am the Cavalry, told a U.S. Senate committee hearing on healthcare and education cybersecurity in May.

Cybercrime is nothing new to the healthcare industry, of course. In data breaches, the industry continues to lead all other sectors. IBM Security’s 2021 “Cost of a Data Breach Report” found that for 11 years in a row, healthcare incurred the highest average data breach cost at over $9.23 million.

A clinical asset management and cybersecurity solution flags the availability of software patches for medical devices and continuously monitors for vulnerabilities. Moreover, real-time risk assessment ratings alert device management teams to potential security gaps so they can mitigate or remediate risks before they become problematic.

Clinical Asset Management Can Help Overcome Supply Shortages

The ventilator shortage during the initial COVID-19 outbreak underscored why medical device visibility is critical. Just how many ventilators were available, and how many were needed? 

Maintaining an accurate and often exhaustive list of equipment is the key to overcoming supply shortages, according to an article written by health and business experts in Harvard Business Review as the pandemic unfolded. Being able to forecast any potential increase in need allows hospitals to get ahead of the curve and avoid the consequences of device shortages.

Comprehensive clinical asset management software provides the details needed to do so. During a health crisis, each piece of equipment used in treating a patient can be flagged to help prioritize the need for that equipment over others. Parts needed for repairs can be quickly identified and addressed. A hospital with a clinical asset management solution will be prepared to meet the challenge head-on through planning, preparing, and taking action. 

A detailed, predictive inventory management system via clinical asset management tools can help alleviate any supply shortages that arise during a health crisis. Not only does this create a sense of security for administrators, but it allows staff to better provide for their patients.

Proprietary Algorithms, Visual Dashboards, and a Detailed Look

Clinical asset management solutions use powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to aggregate and analyze device data to help administrators understand and assess their equipment needs and troubleshoot problems before and as they arise. Proprietary algorithms and dashboards allow the ability to weigh multiple factors, such as device manufacturer support, repair needs, cyber risk, and recalls to best decide the next stage of life for a device. 

Is it time to replace, upgrade, or dispose of a device? Is it worth keeping a device at one facility when perhaps it would be better utilized at another facility in the health system? What’s the repair status? How much is the device actually used? How many devices does the facility have compared to national benchmarks? All these questions can be answered through continuous monitoring.

Technology solutions also aid in maximizing device lifecycles and reducing unnecessary financial expenditures. Having the ability to monitor maintenance schedules accurately and analyze whether a device is worth the cost of storage and upkeep assists hospitals in making the best decisions affecting capital expenditures and operating expenditures going forward. Also, better equipment monitoring and the wide-scale employment of best practices can considerably extend the life of existing equipment, allowing more access to capital in other areas or boosting value if the equipment is sold.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of these tools for healthcare staff. Nurses, in particular, benefit heavily from them—preventing them from wasting precious time to hunt down medical equipment. A robust software solution consistently provides nurses with access to clean, easy-to-find equipment so they can concentrate on patient care.

Today, clinical asset management technology lowers the risk of cyberattacks, helps prevent supply shortages, and allocates valuable dollars where they are needed most. Most importantly, the solutions save time for healthcare providers and improve patient care.

Dave Klumpe is president of clinical asset management at TRIMEDX. Questions and comments can be directed to 24×7 Magazine chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].