In late September, Michael Garel, director of data strategy at Accruent—a leading provider of CMMS software—presented a webinar regarding medical equipment spend optimization. (View it here.) Following this presentation, Garel sat down with 24×7 Magazine to discuss how HTM departments can use data to help improve purchasing decisions. Here’s a snippet of that conversation. 

24×7 Magazine: HTM departments are increasingly tasked with doing more with less. What is one tangible way departments can curb spending?

Michael Garel: HTM departments can make greater use of data to improve their capital planning process. Too often, we hear about suboptimal equipment decisions being made because departments don’t have enough data—or have skewed data—to make those decisions. The wrong equipment, or service contract decision, could lead to spending that’s not needed. For instance, if an organization doesn’t tap into historical equipment labor hours to guide their purchasing decision, their selection might miss the cost element of certain equipment taking fewer labor hours to maintain. 

Misallocated time costs hospitals in employee wages and also potential lost revenue if, for example, an MRI machine goes down. Also on the revenue side, HTM can impact insurance payouts affected by quality of patient care results. If a patient has to reschedule a treatment due to unreliable and unavailable equipment, the quality of that care decreases—and so does the insurance company payout.

24×7: How can HTM departments use empirical data to make spending decisions?

Garel: Data is not necessarily what drives the spending decisions—it’s the insights that are gleaned from that data. This means that someone typically has to spend a significant amount of time analyzing the data. That’s why Accruent built a platform that uses real-world work-order and asset data to automatically generate insights that can guide organizations to make the best equipment and maintenance spend decisions. 

Using larger data sets also brings major advantages. That’s why our offering includes mining and analyzing against Accruent’s company-wide database of more than 200 million work orders. This provides insights, such as how long to expect equipment to last once deployed, how much labor should you expect to perform across the lifetime of the device, how that labor is broken down by age of the device, and the time between failures. 

24×7: What are some key mistakes HTM departments make when they’re mulling an equipment purchase?

Garel: The first is failure to even be involved in the process. Too many departments wait to be asked to take a seat at the table. The problem with this is the folks who are ultimately making the decisions don’t understand the value HTM can bring in this area. HTM leaders need to be proactive and show their colleagues, whether in radiology, labs, ER or nursing, the immense value that lies in the service data—not just their own data, but the service data from across the industry. 

The second, which is somewhat related, is failure to consider the total cost of ownership for a selected device. Will HTM, or some other department, be left having to accommodate a 30% to 40% higher labor time and parts cost if the wrong device is selected? 

The third is to seek out and share experiences of others who own the devices being considered. That’s why Accruent offers a data insights solution to help make device selection easy and quantifiable, rather than anecdotal.

24×7: Before signing service contracts, what should HTM professionals know?

Garel: HTM professionals need to understand what the true cost of service will be for their biomedical devices. This includes acquisition cost, labor, and materials. Today, for many organizations, it’s very hard to predict what their future maintenance spend is going to be—and this gives the service contract vendors an upper hand in the contract negotiations. When armed with the data to know exactly how much they should expect to pay on maintenance given the model, history, and age of the device, the hospital can make a better decision as to whether to outsource the maintenance, keep or bring it back in-house, along with what to pay for a service contract.

24×7: What else do you want 24×7 Magazine readers to know about optimizing their medical equipment spending?

Garel: We continue to preach the need for better data integrity within the industry. In order to build a usable and reliable data platform, the input data needs to be accurate. At Accruent, we’ve built data-cleansing tools to clean our data and ensure we’re analyzing accurate and standard data. However, the quality of the data can always be improved—and better data leads to better features within the platform. As a result, our customers can better understand what to expect from their investments. 

We’ve also spearheaded an effort with others in the CMMS industry to help guide industry and failure code standards. While this is still in its infancy, we feel that driving standardization—as is done across many other industries—will only improve HTM and the quality of patient care.