Ben Mannisto, president and CEO of Southfield, Mich.-based Phoenix Data Systems; Vishal Malhotra, chief technology officer at Charlotte, NC-based EQ2; and Sandra Calderon, an Atlanta-based management consultant at FBC, an authorized Tesseract solution provider, sat down with 24×7 to discuss what every HTM professional should know about the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) market segment. Don’t miss out.

24×7: Why should hospitals utilize CMMS software? 

Calderon: Good CMMS software will streamline the documentation and system management process. By having all of your assets in one system, accessing your data is only a click away. CMMS software can track and configure assets and provide a full audit trail for regulatory compliance. It can also keep a real-time inventory of equipment and parts availability, in addition to creating and auto-generating service calls. And it has the option to dispatch technicians on the spot and enable them to create service reports, add parts, and send reports/invoices. What’s more, the system works well with contract and accounting administration and can generate and maintain sales and contracts, as needed.

Take, for example, Tesseract, a web-based CMMS software that be accessed from any Internet browser. Aside from asset management, contract administration, and bookkeeping, some extra features include remote customer access, e-mail service, and a diary for optimization based on a technician’s availability, skill set, appointment, and estimated work time. By using CMMS software, HTM professionals will reduce equipment costs, control productivity time, and increase customer satisfaction.

Malhotra: A good CMMS application makes everything easier: compliance, data analysis, import inventory, managing workflow, the call escalation process, and medical equipment lifecycle management. All of this leads to a safer environment of care and reduces the cost of ownership for the entire hospital. EQ2’s customers, for instance, use our Hospital Engineering Management System (HEMS), not just in their clinical engineering areas, but also for facilities and other support services areas.

Mannisto: Hospitals utilize CMMS software because they are required to maintain an independent inventory and management system for the care of their various medical devices and other hospital equipment. The information on the equipment/device’s conditions, the maintenance quality, the equipment/device breakdown (or non-performance) are all requirements for an effective maintenance program. CMMS software satisfies these needs, while fulfilling Joint Commission and other regulatory agency requirements.

24×7: How has the CMMS software sector evolved in recent years and how do you expect it to evolve even more in the future?

Malhotra: CMMS applications that are focused on specific health needs, such as EQ2’s HEMS, have adapted to the latest technological developments in health care technology management and added network awareness, cyber-security risk evaluation, automation of processes, and alternate equipment management. CMMS applications like HEMS have also evolved to have interactive interfaces for smartphones and tablets, which helps technicians access drawings, plans, technical manuals, parts suppliers information, equipment, history, contracts, network information, network diagrams, and other key information while in the field.

A good CMMS is designed to help reduce the total cost of medical device ownership by providing a utilization and equipment replacement matrix with comparisons of cost-of-service ratio of devices with models and types. Also with interactive dashboards, the user can keep an eye on key performance indicators for regulatory compliance, service-level agreements, device uptime, and resource analysis.

Mannisto: Like health care technologies, CMMS software has become more complex, sophisticated, and cost-sensitive. As clinical engineering departments take on increasingly more significant roles in capital equipment planning and risk planning, more and better information is needed to analyze the best course of action. With Phoenix Data Systems’ introduction of Superior Analytics, for instance, we can “read” a hospital’s database—regardless of its CMMS system—and provide the hospital with a comprehensive report that measures more than 100 internal operations metrics, and then compares them to our Asset Information Management System (AIMS) family of users. We’ve added an industry expert, Doug Brown, to help with this.

Measurements can include the cost-of-service ratio, mean time between failures, cost of labor, preventive maintenance completion rates, and more—all broken down by modality, location, and technician. This provides the hospital management team with the information needed to make better decisions on staffing, contracts, training, deployment, and more. It also allows HTM managers to predict the outcome of doing so.

Calderon: CMMS software has come a long way. It used to be simply a database that stored medical device information with only access through a personal computer. But over the years, it has become more sophisticated with features like remote engineering access, test equipment integration, linkage to e-mails for immediate notification to service calls/requests, and report generation. As technology advances, so will CMMS software.

The future may bring the possibility of integrating all medical devices for instant data transfer and the option for electronic medical record integration. And in a perfect world, it will facilitate radiofrequency identification—tracking device integration, inventory management, and decreasing equipment replacement costs.

24×7: Are there challenges of having to accommodate different types of hospitals—for instance, a teaching hospital versus a community-based health center?

Mannisto: In the CMMS environment, the challenge between different types of hospitals is predominately one of scale, and secondarily one of equipment character. Relative to scale, consider 800 vs. 100 beds. 35 vs. five technicians, and 100,000 vs. 10,000 pieces of equipment. Relative to equipment character, teaching hospitals will have significantly more equipment relative to bed size, as well as broader and more complex range of medical equipment. Smaller, community-based health centers will have less beds and less specialized equipment.

Phoenix Data Systems’ AIMS, for instance, is a component-based system that can meet the needs of all types of hospitals. This flexibility provides the opportunity to purchase only what the facility needs while still allowing for growth. Additionally, many features are user-defined, which allows the hospital to set up their system, their way.

Malhotra: Most community-based health centers come under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services while organizations like the Joint Commission and DNV GL normally accredit teaching hospitals. To fit different needs, E2Q’s HEMS accommodates based on regulatory compliance, body and size (number of assets), and the number of users that result from either the size of the single institution or the number of locations within an institution. With our modular architecture, we are able to scale to customers’ need. And with the services we offer, we can help users standardize their database to a homogenous set across whatever boundaries exist.

Calderon: The challenges of accommodating different types of hospitals are assuring that the system is properly configured to meet the organization’s needs and requirements. Our goal is to provide a system that can be used to its full potential. As with any management software, there are many features and capabilities, which are underutilized and sometimes unmentioned. A good CMMS will offer a fully customized database specific to the organization or business.

Health care systems can vary in size, acuity, and functionality; therefore, the ability to accommodate each one is crucial. Ideally, you should implement a system that is flexible and can grow with the hospital since health care organizations are constantly getting acquired or merging—and implementing CMMS software with every acquisition would be a formidable task.

24×7: What else should 24×7 readers know about the CMMS sector?

Calderon: The CMMS sector is constantly under pressure to create seamless interfaces to legacy systems in hospitals for accounting, facilities maintenance, and measuring and test software. There is also a pressure for going to the mobile platform and making software that is browser- and device-independent. This demands that software vendors constantly invest in application development.

On the other hand, the cloud-based model of implementation is commoditizing CMMS software—and margins are eroding. As such, there is a lot of consolidation going on in the market with software vendors either joining hands or being acquired.

Despite that, HTM professionals implementing CMMS software need not be afraid of bringing issues and/or ideas to their CMMS software of choice. If you think an additional feature is needed, then ask. After all, many features are available—but are either not activated or were missed during the planning phase. Mold the software to your organization.

Malhotra: A CMMS is much more than simple work-order management software. It should be able to classify alternate equipment management, integrate with real-time locating systems, have the capability for two-way communication with electrical safety analyzers, and document tester information. It should also have stock management with a full/semi-auto reordering ability, as well as service-level agreement management and electronic recalls/alert integration. All of these things will help hospitals meet ever-increasing challenges and set them up for success.

Mannisto: A CMMS is a management tool—and like all management tools, the better the tool, the easier the work and the better delivery or outcome. A good, well-set-up CMMS can save 5% to 10% of labor costs—often even more. Even with a small, five-person technician shop (at $65,000/person or a $325,000 labor budget), 5% to 10% labor savings would equate to between $16,250 and $33,000 annually. And in a 15-technician shop, the savings are substantial at $975,000 (5% equates to between $48,750 and $97,500). With a good analytical program, the labor savings could be even greater.

Further, most engineering departments don’t have access to specialists who can analyze their data. Through Phoenix’ Superior Analytics experience, however, organizations with good cost-of-service ratios below 5% still have anomalies in labor conditions that could yield meaningful savings when they are identified and executed.