By Laura Lunardi, Technical Analyst of Biominas Brasil and Thiago Bajur, Executive Manager of Arkmeds.
Few people know clinical engineering and its importance in hospital service management. From the biomedical engineering resulted the clinical engineering which focuses on health technology management using knowledge in engineering and management techniques in order to provide improvements in patient care.
The National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (in Portuguese, Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária – ANVISA), published in 2010 the resolution nº2 about technology management in health centers in which its recommended that health establishments must have among its members specialized professionals in clinical engineering. The measure recommended by ANVISA is essential given that the support of a technical team alongside clinical engineers is crucial for the development of a specialized sector within the health unit. Therefore a clinical engineer must participate in the main hospital management processes, from technology and residue management and even financial management in order to achieve resource optimization, process facilitation and risk reduction. Although clinical engineering are fundamental for any health center, the position is often seen as an unnecessary expense by managers and not as an investment for continuous improvement.
Among the various motives that show the importance of clinical engineers as a supportive position in hospital management, the following stand out:
- Expense reduction in purchasing and outsourcing services.
A scientific study published in the Brazilian Biomedical Engineering Magazine showed that the presence of a clinical engineers’ team significantly reduced the Hospital of Uberlândia University contractual costs. Without this team, the hospital would have spent about BRL 3.6 million in 2010 purchasing medicinal gas and image diagnosis services. Instead, they were able evaluate better the hospitals necessities and renegotiate their demands with the suppliers, therefore reducing the expense to BRL 737 thousand as well as cutting back on equipment maintenance. By establishing a team of clinical engineers, the hospital managed to spare over BRL 2 million in expense.
- Quality accreditation
Hospitals have increasingly sought excellence recognitions such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification and National Organization for Accreditation (ONA). It is one of the main objectives of clinical engineers to help improve work flow by process standardization, evidence organization as well as establishing politics for all health units in technological parks that wish to obtain recognition. One of the politics that can be cited is the zero paper initiative in which documents, now in digital format, can be reached easily and quickly during auditing processes saving of time, money and space.
- Better use and logistics of hospital beds and technologic park control
Occupation rates of hospitals beds below 75% are an indicative of low utilization and inefficiency in hospital management. The underuse of this resource may indicate not only a flaw in the hospital`s management but also inadequate coordination with the service’s network. An example of network flaw is the lack of minimum equipment in bedrooms or nursing wards that sometimes are available but are difficult to access in the hospitals and therefore are underused, which may lead to unnecessary purchasing of new equipment. This strongly underlines the necessity for change in organization, planning and training processes which could be optimized by the use of technologies such as Radiofrequency identification (RFID) as a way to aim for more quality in patient care.
- Processes and traceability automation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20 to 40% of the expenses in health centers are caused by waste of resources, however, the traceability of the wastage is still a problem. The lack of information regarding the processes flow makes it difficult to scale out the losses and determine preventive and/or corrective measures. Data are also important to evaluate the ideal moment of deactivation of certain equipment, may the cause be by increasing maintenance cost or unreliability. The lack maintenance results in less critical information available that are crucial to evaluate the equipments reliability when used, for instance, in surgical procedures. A clinical engineering center can reduce risks in unreliability by working with remote monitoring tools to analyze all information available. With these tools, preventive measures, such as supplies replacement and calibrations can be done automatically without the need for checkups or technical visits. Not only does this technique save time in inspection, they also reduce the chances of having procedures interrupted by lack of supplies, equipment failure or inadequate operating conditions.
There are many advantages of clinical engineering as a support for hospital management. To learn more details, consult with Arkmeds, a company that develops technologies for clinical engineers.
Arkmeds participated in the first round of BioStartup Lab pre-acceleration program, an initiative of Biominas Brasil and SEBRAE Minas.