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Utilizing New Technologies to Save Time Performing Preventive Maintenance

MedWrench recently spoke with Pronk's Greg Alkire, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, about utilizing new technologies to save time when performing preventative maintenance.

Mon Jun 01 2020By Pronk Technologies

Have a question for the expert or want to find out more after reading these tips? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to ask Greg Alkire a question directly.

Can you identify some of the medical devices that require preventive maintenance (PM)/repair?

Biomedical engineers service thousands of medical devices throughout a healthcare organization. Some of the most common devices are vital signs monitors, infusion devices, ventilators and defibrillators. The service and maintenance required to support these devices involve significant resources, training, and logistics. These activities equate to a substantial amount of time to manage. 

What kinds of equipment and other tools do HTM professionals need to most effectively complete the work required?

With such a wide range of equipment to manage, biomedical engineers need not only a complete set of test equipment that can do the job, but also a means to efficiently manage all of the supporting tasks that we technical folks often dread. Such as: What products do I need to service today/this month? What are the procedures I have to follow? What are the documentation requirements? What are the acceptable tolerances for the test results? And, so on. All of these pieces are important for a biomed. 

How can one identify procedures needed to perform the service of a medical device?

There are typically three sources for identifying the correct procedure: (i) manufacturers’ service manuals (ii) hospital created procedures or (iii) CMMS driven procedures. The challenges, however, are that the manuals tend to be very long and must be searched to find the few pages needed for doing the work. Also, these documents are not readily available when the biomed is in front of a piece of medical equipment. Hospital procedures oftentimes are PC-based and the biomed has to either print them for each device type or bring a laptop with them. CMMS-driven work orders/procedures are great, if written well, but are not often easily utilized across a facility without a PC or a really good mobile app. Even with a CMMS mobile app, there have not been any good solutions for controlling and capturing measurements from test equipment.  Having compliant procedures at the fingertips of technicians to guide them through required testing steps and pass/fail limits, can save biomeds a lot of headache.

What knowledge is needed to correctly perform the required service?

Biomeds need to have a better understanding of medical devices than doctors and nurses.  They not only need to know all the technical aspects of the device and how to operate it, but also understand the clinical application. Biomed training is key. Mentoring and having resources easily accessible about how to perform the service are very important. It is imperative to have the support of the healthcare organization investing in their technicians and providing all of the necessary training, particularly on the more complex medical devices. Manufacturers, including test equipment companies, should provide tools to aid biomedical engineers to easily identify what testing is required, how to correctly verify the device is performing within specifications, as well as, solutions that make it easier to complete the PM/repair.

What are best practices that should be incorporated into each PM/repair?

Understanding the manufacturer’s requirements is critical for any PM/repair, although it’s not always wise to only follow the manufacturer’s procedure. Experience with prior failures, trouble calls and/or incident reports on a particular model can be incredibly helpful in terms of tailoring the PM/repair toward the real use and reliability of that device. National and local regulatory requirements have to be taken into consideration as well.  It is also just as important to develop PM/repair procedures focused on verifying that the device is performing correctly - both mechanically and electronically - as well as safe to be put into service. As medical equipment repair technicians and engineers, we all take pride in using our investigative skills, experience and ability to ask the right questions and get the necessary information in order to know how to service a medical device properly.  We just need better solutions to bring all the pieces together. 

What information is required for a technician to capture/document? 

o    Pass/Fail only?

o    Capture each test performed and result?

This varies from state to state and even from facility to facility.  Some organizations just document the most essential information of the device - when it was serviced and only specifying the device passed all the required testing. Other organizations look to capture each test performed, the measured values and pass/fail results. With regulatory requirements evolving, the need to confirm what service was performed, capturing the actual test results to ensure the medical device is ready to be put back into service is being looked at more closely. It is also extremely helpful to have this level of detail for PM/repair work captured and stored electronically for the inevitable incident investigations that all hospital facilities face from time to time.  

What is needed for electronic reports and where does the information go?

Customers using electronic records need them to be in a centralized location. Some utilize a CMMS system or create their own database, while others use more basic tools to archive their service reports. What is missing in the market is an easy method for technicians to perform their work, know what the procedure is, create an automatic detailed report and easily transfer it to their centralized location. At Pronk, we are looking to help fill that need and have introduced a new solution, Pronk Mobilize, to streamline PM/repairs and connect all of these important tasks together.

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