By Mark Homer, ServiceMax
How can healthcare organizations cost-effectively maintain the growing number of digital medical devices and machines?
Spending on MedTech is soaring. And not just because of the COVID pandemic. According to numbers from EY, between 2018 and 2019 global spending on digital devices and medical machines increased by seven percent to $407bn. Given the advancements with technology in areas such as cardiology, neurology, orthopaedics, oncology, and medical imaging, perhaps this is no surprise. And in facing our current global pandemic, industry demand is at an all-time high. However, what it does throw up is a maintenance challenge. The complexity of new devices working across often multiple sites can push-up costs for service teams tasked with minimizing downtime.
Given the rising costs of healthcare and increasing demands of aging populations even in ‘normal’ times, this is going to be difficult. As well as visibility of devices, healthcare companies have strict compliance issues and need to ensure consistency in services. Now more than ever, they can’t afford for machines to be out of action for any length of time.
While many healthcare organizations will already have some experience with field service management software, the reality facing them today is that even field service management is transforming to meet the needs of modern, tech-driven, heavily regulated healthcare environments. Everything from processes through to delivery of services must be reassessed and that can be costly. With digital tools comes a need for digital end-to-end services and for many organizations this could mean ripping up their existing service rule book.
Traditional processes of assigning work and communicating with technicians now seem wasteful and antiquated. Existing systems do not offer complete visibility of installed base of devices and many technicians will know from experience that an inability to instantly access key information about devices on-site can lead to costly delays, multiple journeys, and unhappy customers.
It’s also important to factor in the skills challenge. Like many other industries emerging from the pandemic, a backlog of equipment maintenance requirements has built up over recent months as many service technicians have not been allowed on-site. This is particularly acute for healthcare devices including complex machinery. Rapidly advancing technologies demand on-going learning and experience for technicians. Again, this comes at a cost but even when the field service team is skilled is it being utilized to optimum levels? Are jobs being assigned to the most suitably skilled technician all the time?
The challenges healthcare faces with service management are not insurmountable. For example, it’s now possible to enable visibility of installed base of machines and devices and map them to technician territories and skills. This oversight is essential to improve operational efficiencies of service teams as the data from these machines can be used to ensure the right engineers are sent to the right jobs, based on either geography or skills set and expertise. This should reduce costs by minimizing ‘truck rolls’ where engineers embark on multiple trips to complete a job. Likewise, many devices can be remotely monitored with IoT sensors for preventative, proactive maintenance to minimize downtime – particularly useful in the current climate.
Another key aspect is knowledge. Engineers need access to a knowledge base on-site to enable them to respond to parts queries, pricing for customers, compliance forms, and so on. By having information at their fingertips while on-site, they will not only complete a job more quickly, they will have the ability to upsell and keep customers happy. That knowledge also extends to management providing evidence of compliance and a 360-degree view of asset health.
Modern, mobile field service management solutions make this possible. They provide technicians with all the information they need to deliver effective service on the first visit and hit their SLA targets. Automated asset management capabilities also can keep an eye on machines and devices, even across complex infrastructures.
Ultimately, mobile field service management will enable fast turnaround times in a regulated environment, keeping costs to a minimum and scaling with healthcare organizations as their devices grow in number or needs changed. As the industry’s reliance on the uptime and availability of medical equipment and devices becomes increasingly critical, robust field service is the only way MedTech can stay healthy.
About The Author
Mark Homer is Senior Vice President of Global Customer Success and Head of Corporate Development for ServiceMax.