The hand-held with software scaled to fit your Palm or Pocket. An Application Service Provider (ASP) solution. A Web-based/Web-enabled system. Asset-tracking technology. Get one, get all, and don’t forget the “intelligent” features, such as e-mail alerts, key performance indicators and standard nomenclatures. While it may be cliched, it’s true: The latest clinical engineering management systems (CEMS) offer something for everyone who is charged with keeping track of everything.

 Is it time to shop for a new clinical engineering management system (CEMS) product? Perhaps clinical engineers have been issued hand-held computers and now need software that can run on their new gadgets. Or maybe the biomed department has been getting the run-around from the Information Systems (IS) department and has decided it’s time to consider an Application Service Provider (ASP) solution. And, of course, there are the clinical engineering departments that have semimerged with facilities departments and are in need of a software solution that can satisfy both entities. Clinical engineers are in luck; there are a wide variety of new CEMS products geared to meet the changing demands on the profession.

Palms and Pockets
Love ’em or hate ’em, hand-held computers are fast becoming an indispensable tool of the trade. John Collins, director of engineering and compliance for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE of Chicago), notes, “The importance of hand-held CEMS solutions depends on the tech’s comfort level with hand-helds. Some techs believe hand-helds make more work than pencil and paper.” Those belonging to that camp are reluctant to carry around and manage yet another piece of equipment.

On the other side of the fence are the growing swarms of hand-held proponents who recognize the tremendous gains in productivity made possible by wireless devices. Steve Desruisseau, senior account executive for healthcare for TMA Systems Inc. (Tulsa, Okla.), explains, “Recent studies put biomeds’ actual work time at about 32 percent of their day. The rest of the day is spent on travel, meetings, and finding equipment and tools. Hand-held computers can increase biomeds’ productivity by a minimum of 4 to 6 percent.”

Of course, a hand-held requires CEMS software to maximize productivity. Many companies sell a scaled down version of their main CEMS products for hand-helds.

TMA markets Digital Maintenance Assistant (DMA), a hand-held electronic work order system. DMA makes it possible to complete a variety of tasks including downloading and uploading work orders, viewing work histories, transferring completed work orders to the database, creating and transferring inventory records, creating new work orders while performing building inspections, conducting parts inventories and updating the parts records in the database. DMA is available for use with any Palm OS or Pocket PC device.

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