Before you began your healthcare technology management (HTM) career, you likely had training in the repair and maintenance of medical devices. It probably included analog and digital electronics, anatomy and physiology, and several courses in medical instrumentation. It might have also involved formal courses such as math, chemistry, physics, English, and hopefully an internship to let you put into practice the skills you learned in class.
If you’re like many 24×7 readers, you have been a biomedical technician for several years now. You have proven yourself as a leader in the department and successfully navigated the duties of repairing equipment, along with scheduling and completing all your assigned PM duties. You have gone the extra mile in providing the very best support for the medical staff in all areas of HTM.
And maybe a year ago, your department manager rewarded you with a promotion after you earned your CBET certification. Now you are one of the department’s team leaders. You quickly became exposed to many new areas of HTM in which you are expected to be proficient, but you lack formal training. Just like when you began your career, you find yourself behind the learning curve. Now, to meet your new responsibilities, you decide you want to become a certified healthcare technology management professional, or CHTM.
If this scenario resembles your career path, you may find this article and the next several topics covered in Prep Talk of great significance to you. The standard BMET curriculum typically spends very little time covering the management principles found on the CHTM exam. Let’s begin the process of becoming a CHTM with a tutorial on purchasing medical equipment in today’s healthcare environment.
Purchasing today’s medical technology involves much more than just finding the best price. A complete systems approach must be implemented to facilitate organizational goals and to achieve the return on investment (ROI) that administrators are so desperately seeking in today’s financial environment. When a facility decides it wants to buy or upgrade a certain technology, I strongly recommend a project manager be appointed to implement the purchasing process. Once this project manager is in place, many factors must be addressed.
To be a successful project manager, you must first identify all the key stakeholders who need to have input into the process. This step will help identify two very important pieces of information: the capital cost of the equipment and its operational cost.
The capital cost is not just how much the supplier will charge for the system. There could be several other expenditures needed to support a new purchase. Those costs can be identified by collecting detailed inputs from the stakeholders. For example, the IT department may point out the old servers cannot handle the new system, so infrastructure upgrades will have to be implemented prior to purchase. This “upfront” cost must be calculated into the total price of the system and integrated into the total ROI for the purchase.
Operational costs are the day-to-day expenses incurred while using the system. They could be items such as disposable NIBP cuffs for each patient or patient leads, just to name two. Operational costs also include expenses associated with maintaining or supporting the new equipment. When assessing these costs, a facility would want to evaluate if it has the expertise to service the equipment in-house. If not, it would need to look into a service contract or send personnel for training. All these expenses must be used to make a proper analysis of costs associated with the new purchase and should in turn be factored into the ROI.
But for a healthcare system to take full advantage of this process, it must first establish the need for the new purchase. As BMETs, we may believe the purchase of a new monitoring system originates with physicians and nursing staff asking administration for one, but that is probably not at all how the decision is made at the organizational level.
A purchase decision must first come from a detailed analysis of the organization’s strategic plan. A strategic plan is an organization’s process for defining its overall direction and making decisions about how to allocate resources to pursue this strategy. The strategic plan will be guided by the organization’s mission statement, which might say something like: To improve the health of the people served by providing high-quality care, a comprehensive range of services, convenient and timely access, and exceptional service and compassion. Each of the items in a strategic plan should in some way support the mission statement. Having a state-of-the-art monitoring system could definitely fall under the hospital’s responsibility to improve the health of the people it serves. But funding must also be allocated to implement any new system, so a detailed strategic plan must be in place and followed to achieve the organization’s goals.
In the next installment, we will look into strategic planning and benchmarking and how this information might appear on the CHTM exam. I hope you enjoyed the article and find this information useful in your study process.
John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact chief editor Jenny Lower at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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1) When evaluating purchase costs of medical equipment, you should consider which of the following?
b) Price quote
c) Upfront costs
d) All the above
2) The guiding document that should be used to establish the purchase of new medical equipment is referred to as the ____________.
a) mission statement
b) purchase plan
c) strategic plan
d) upgrade plan
3) Input from this group must be secured before medical equipment is purchased to ensure organizational goals are met.
4) In planning to purchase medical equipment, operational costs must be considered. Which of the following is considered an operational cost?
a) Service contract
b) Labor costs to operate the device
c) Infrastructure upgrades
Answers: 1—D, 2—C, 3—C, 4—A