How to Manage Medical Device Supply Chain Challenges


Some medical device supply chain challenges in hospitals are fundamental, such as determining what they have and establishing a complete inventory.

Medical devices are one of the most challenging facets of supply chain management in healthcare systems and hospitals.

Medical devices include a range of equipment from monitors to IV pumps to million dollar magnetic resonance imaging machines. Hospitals must not only acquire medical devices, but also monitor them and keep them in good working order.

This equipment looms large in the supply chain hierarchy, says David Klumpe, PharmD, president of clinical asset management solutions at Indianapolis-based TRIMEDX. “Medical devices are an important part of the hospital supply chain. On the capital side, medical equipment accounts for 20% to 25% of what the hospital spends on capital equipment each year. major driver of organizational capital spending on an ongoing basis.”

He says there are four main supply chain challenges related to medical devices:

  • “The first challenge is to gain visibility into what you own. We find that many of our clients do not fully understand everything they own. When we help them take inventory, there is quite a difference between what they think they own and what they actually own – they can lose up to 30%,” he says.
  • “The second challenge is to measure device usage. Hospitals have thousands of devices and they need to know how many they use regularly. Almost every hospital faces this challenge because it is very difficult for hospitals without technology monitor device usage A typical hospital uses only 40% to 50% of the equipment it owns every day, so asset usage can be much lower than it could be wait,” says Klumpe.
  • “The third challenge is that many hospitals lack benchmarks – how much equipment does a hospital have compared to similar hospitals. For example, how many ventilators does a hospital have and how many IV pumps does a hospital have? Many hospitals don’t have a benchmark comparison to gauge the level of investment they’ve made in their equipment,” he says.
  • “Finally, like many things in a hospital, there are many stakeholders for medical devices – many people involved in decisions about clinical equipment. There is the administrative point of view, the frontline caregivers, from a financial perspective, from a regulatory perspective and from an infection control perspective So, as many stakeholders are involved, there can be complex decisions that need to be made with input many people,” says Klumpe.

There are strategies to address these challenges, he says. “The first strategy is to create and maintain a single, accurate source of truth. A hospital should have a complete inventory of all the equipment it has in one place, where it knows everything about that equipment. It should only not only have an inventory of the equipment, but also the amount used, and a record of its age and availability of parts.”

The second strategy is to establish effective governance over medical devices, Klumpe says. “There is governance over pharmaceuticals and supplies, and there should be the same level of governance over the continued investment in clinical assets. You should bring all the stakeholders around the table, get alignment around goals and establishing accountability for who can make decisions and how decisions are going to be made.”

The third strategy involves technology, he says. “If you’re trying to do this work with manual processes, it’s going to be very difficult. So you need to look for solutions that can automate data collection and maintenance. You need to automate the understanding of usage. You need to automate the infusion of references into conversations about medical devices.”

Management of medical devices

Hospitals need to establish the useful life of medical devices to help keep equipment in good condition, Klumpe says. “Many hospitals rely on equipment manufacturers to make recommendations on replacement intervals, but many pieces of equipment have a useful life well beyond what the manufacturer may suggest under a maintenance program. robust clinical engineering.Often, hospitals find a partner who can help bring insight into useful life beyond what the manufacturer might suggest is useful life, which is a way for hospitals to ‘stretch their capital.’

There are two main strategies for extending the useful life of medical devices, he says.

“One approach is to have a quality clinical engineering program. You should have a team of highly trained and disciplined clinical engineers who are able to make repairs to equipment in a timely manner. These engineers can keep equipment beyond what the manufacturers have suggested as the useful life of the device,” says Klumpe.

The other approach, which goes hand in hand with a quality clinical engineering program, is an advanced supply chain, he says.

“There are parts available for clinical devices after manufacturers have stopped making parts. There are several companies that supply spare parts. You need to understand this market and think about who you are going to buy parts from Advanced Sourcing will perform rigorous vendor management and ensure that parts are sourced from qualified vendors.This vendor management ensures that the device is safe and continues to perform as it should for patient care.

Related: How to improve healthcare supply chains

Christopher Cheney is the Clinical Care Editor at HealthLeaders.


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