I'm Going to Ignore Clinical Engineering!

Mar 21, 2011, 12:05 ET from ECRI Institute

ECRI Institute white paper helps hospital leaders team up with their clinical engineering services for patient safety and cost-savings

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consider a senior hospital executive who pays little attention to, or overlooks the value of, his or her clinical engineering services until a CT scanner is down for two days, the department of health slaps the hospital with a fine, the clinical engineering vendor demands a 10% increase, or worse yet, a patient is injured by medical equipment. 

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Ridiculous? CEOs, COOs, and VPs of ancillary or support services may have more immediate concerns than clinical engineering. But from a patient safety, cost, and compliance perspective, it is worth their while to take a look at how extensively things have changed in the "basement." In fact, an informal ECRI Institute poll reveals that 30% of clinical engineering departments now report to the CIO or Director of IT. Clinical engineering services, whether in-house or contracted, can be an overlooked resource for helping the C-suite achieve its goals.

A new, free, white paper, I'm Going to Ignore Clinical Engineering Until . . . Not in My Hospital!, addresses the changing role of the clinical engineer, from equipment "fixer" and "maintainer" to a key professional who adds value broadly across the institution. This evolving role involves collaborating with senior management on areas ranging from capital equipment planning and purchasing, to biomedical device integration planning, risk assessment, and the benchmarking of clinical engineering's performance.

The white paper, published by ECRI Institute, (www.ecri.org), an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, identifies challenges and provides tips on maximizing efficiencies in a hospital's clinical engineering activities. It outlines best practices for senior management to make the most of their clinical engineering services, including championing and developing staff, demanding accountability via performance metrics, and focusing on long-term solutions.

"Today's challenges—from cost reduction efforts to medical device integration and alarm management—require that clinical engineering departments step up to the plate to provide technical leadership," says Robert Maliff, Director, Applied Solutions Group, ECRI Institute.

"Administrators should be prepared to champion these staff members and include them in the essential tasks of capital equipment planning and purchasing and risk assessment," Maliff says.

The report includes cost-saving recommendations, such as: When does it make sense to move from a full-service maintenance contract with an original equipment manufacturer to a "time and materials" service, for a potential 20% savings?

To download the full white paper, I'm Going to Ignore Clinical Engineering Until . . . Not in My Hospital! from ECRI Institute's Web site, go to:https://www.ecri.org/Forms/Pages/clinicalengineering-white-paper.aspx(free with registration).

ECRI Institute's Applied Solutions team of healthcare consultants provide customized support and evaluation of clinical engineering programs with objective, independent guidance and expertise through its customized Technology Management Reviews. To learn more, visit www.ecri.org/techmanagement or contact ECRI Institute by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298, USA; by telephone at (610) 825-6000, ext. 5130; by e-mail at consultants@ecri.org; or by fax at (610) 834-1275.

ECRI Institute (www.ecri.org), a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for 43 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated as a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO, listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strives to achieve the highest levels of safety and quality in healthcare by collecting and analyzing patient safety information and sharing lessons learned and best practices. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ECRIInstitute) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ECRI_Institute).