Healthcare organizations need to ensure that medical equipment is maintained by trained healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s the guidance from the nonprofit Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) in the wake of news reports that individuals who are not trained in healthcare technology are recommissioning, repairing, or maintaining life-saving technologies like ventilators.
“While AAMI is aware of well-intentioned work in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative that patients are not put at risk,” said Rob Jensen, AAMI’s president and chief executive officer. “AAMI strongly encourages those new to this arena to seek out health technology management experts at the earliest opportunity to maximize the benefit of your efforts.”
Recent news has cited efforts that include designing new equipment, recommissioning old or out-of-service devices, refurbishing devices, and adapting technologies to serve additional patients.
“One of the most important ways to ensure a high standard of performance for these medical devices and systems is to utilize the dedicated experts who have been specifically trained to repair, maintain, and operate that equipment every day—healthcare technology management professionals, or HTM professionals,” said Danielle McGeary, vice president of HTM at AAMI. “As health technology experts, HTM professionals should be consulted when attempting to refurbish or fix medical equipment and technology—especially during crisis situations where expertise is vital.”
Ensuring the use of proper testing procedures and test equipment to confirm that these medical devices are working properly represents a few examples of how health technology experts can assist, McGeary noted. “Ventilators are life support equipment, and if not repaired or maintained properly, patient lives could be severely put at risk,” she said.
AAMI, a nonprofit, consensus-building organization, represents healthcare technology professionals around the world. AAMI also develops medical device standards, provides education and training opportunities, and advances the role of HTM professionals in healthcare.
HTM professionals can be found in every hospital in the United States and across the world. Many are employed in a hospital environment, with titles including biomedical equipment technicians, biomedical engineers, clinician engineers, and more. HTM professionals are subject matter experts for fixing, troubleshooting, and testing medical devices, and many have received specific training from ventilator manufacturers on the proper use and maintenance of these devices.
Additionally, HTM professionals are a critical knowledge base for equipment planning, purchase, installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and on-call technical support.
“Even as health systems are strained by the Coronavirus pandemic, HTM departments must ensure that all equipment is functioning to the manufacturer’s specifications prior to be being placed on a patient. With medical equipment arriving at hospitals from so many different sources, now is not the time to skip any incoming inspections,” McGeary said.
For help connecting with local HTM professionals, please contact your local HTM association or AAMI directly at www.aami.org/contact.