TechNation | Biomed 101: Four Reasons Inventory Management is Mission-Critical

By Gus Guevara, CHTM

Over my career spanning more than three decades in healthcare technology management, I’ve learned a thing or two. One thing I’ve learned is that proper management of your inventory of medical devices and equipment will help you improve patient care, strengthen patient safety, reduce risk, and save time and money.

Is your clinical equipment inventory management system performing at its highest level? To find out, you need to dig deeper than the typical inventory data sets such as manufacturer, model and serial number. Read my list of the four reasons why accurate clinical equipment inventory management is mission-critical for your B

1. Compliance

Mission-Critical Benefits: Patient Safety, Patient Care, Costs

Regulatory compliance mandates from various agencies – including the FDA and TJC – outline strict requirements to not only have a detailed inventory of all medical devices and equipment, but also to ensure your meticulous inventory is at-the-ready. To meet compliance regulations, it’s critical that your hospital or health care system has a comprehensive, accurate clinical equipment inventory management system in place that’s easily maintained, updated and accessed. If not, you risk compliance violations, which can be costly to your bottom line as well as your reputation. The ultimate goal of regulatory compliance is to ensure patient safety and the standard of patient care – both of which are the number one priority for every hospital and health system.

Does Your Inventory have:

  • An inventory of all medical equipment, regardless of ownership?
  • Preventive maintenance documentation, including vendor-supported items?
  • Data analysis looking for trends in equipment failures and subsequent follow-up actions?

2. Strategic Capital Equipment Planning

Mission-Critical Benefits: Time, Costs, Patient Care

Efficient, effective strategic planning relies on accurate data. A thorough clinical equipment inventory will provide you with the data you need to understand, plan for, and project future healthcare technology investments. What are your historical maintenance costs? What is the maintenance schedule for your medical devices and equipment? When will devices and equipment need to be replaced, based on their age and use? An accurate inventory management system will help you substantiate and support informed decision making and budgeting during the strategic capital equipment planning process. Proactive planning for both major and minor costs will save you both time and money in the long run, as well as position your hospital or health system to make investments that will reduce equipment downtime – ultimately impacting your ability to provide the level of patient care your patients expect and deserve.

Does your inventory have:

  • installation dates and useful life information?
  • service costs to determine whether to fix or replace?
  • end-of-service/life dates of all equipment?

3. Recall Management

Mission-Critical Benefits: Patient Safety, Risk Management

Urgent response to recalls of medical devices and equipment is crucial for every hospital and health system. An accurate, comprehensive clinical equipment inventory – down to the serial number level – empowers your team to immediately identify impacted items and address a recall, which often requires pulling items from service. Swift and thorough recall management is obviously a vital part of maintaining your commitment to patient safety, as well as being a fundamental element of your risk management protocols.

Does your inventory have:

  • serial numbers of subcomponents, such as X-ray tables?
  • location of devices for quick retrieval if necessary?
  • inventory of patient monitoring multi-parameter modules?

4. Cybersecurity

Mission-Critical Benefits: Patient Safety, Risk Management, Costs

Yes, medical devices and equipment can be hacked! An accurate clinical equipment inventory will help you strengthen your cybersecurity to thwart health care hackers and protect sensitive patient data – such as names, addresses and social security numbers. Tracking software versions as part of your clinical equipment inventory ensures your team can maintain the highest level of security by installing updates and revisions when they become available, at the machine and network levels, to prevent data breaches as well as nefarious cyber attacks.

Hacked data can be sold, or hackers can hold your organization hostage with the demand for ransom payment. Responding to cybersecurity breaches can be costly beyond ransom payments. Legal and other costs have bottom-line consequences. Reputational risk response can also generate a significant price tag, and news of a breach can cause patients to take their business elsewhere. Privacy and data security is a hot-button issue today that hospitals and health systems, especially, need to address. It’s another issue impacting risk management as well as your overall commitment to patient safety. More…