Health care leaders who care about patient safety, cost control and compliance with health care regulations shouldn’t overlook the importance of their clinical engineering services, according to a new white paper by the ECRI Institute. The role of clinical engineering has been changing slowly over the past 10 years, the institute says, moving “out of the basement” and becoming more integrated with the entire health care enterprise.
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According to the white paper, “today’s biomeds are expected to be health information technology experts who are well-trained on the latest modalities.” An informal ECRI poll shows that 30% of clinical engineering departments now report to the chief information officer or director of IT. Clinical engineering departments face a number of challenges today, the institute says, including more devices coming onto the network that require complex management procedures, and a larger preventive maintenance workload.
With health IT making ECRI’s list of top ten health technology hazards, health care leaders have good reason to ensure that clinical engineering and IT departments are playing nicely in the sandbox. ECRI offers five best practices for managing clinical engineering services:
- Champion your clinical engineering department.
- Develop the leadership skills of your clinical engineering staff.
- Measure the performance of your clinical engineering department or services.
- Focus on long-term value programs, not just short-term financial goals.
- Call in an outside expert to review your current operations.
If you choose the fifth item, ECRI just happens to offer consulting services to help you assess the state of your clinical engineering services.
Another resource for information is the CE-IT Community website, a joint collaboration among the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the American College of Clinical Engineering, and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.