The Other Side: We Have the Data

By Jim Fedele

am inspired by recent discussions about what we can learn from our Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). Harnessing the data (and knowledge) buried in our CMMS system can provide meaningful information that is otherwise mostly anecdotal at this point. However, I know from the seminars I have taught on failure codes and AEM processes that convincing my peers is not an easy task.

I have had the privilege to work with Dr. Binseng Wang on a project we started back in 2007 to create a standardized set of codes in our CMMS to easily analyze how maintenance activities affect medical equipment reliability. We have attempted to help our peers embrace Evidence-Based Maintenance (EBM) to help justify utilizing our limited resources on important high-risk equipment (CT scanners, balloon pumps) and not on safety and performance checks on low-end to medium-risk equipment (manual blood pressure units and vital sign monitors). However, as recently as October 2016 when I presented this concept at the MD Expo in New England there is still considerable resistance to implementing a system to mine data from a CMMS and adopt EBM.

I have been reflecting on why I have been having difficulty convincing my peers that they should adopt EBM at their facility. I remember it was challenging to get our committee members to adopt the failure codes. We had many meetings to decide how to do it, for a long time we made very little progress. What I found with my group was resistance to any idea that couldn’t be implemented perfectly. This is actually true for the dissenters who have attended some of the presentations I have given. They zero in on the lowest probability exception and thusly dismiss the entire concept. Finally, my committee decided to trial it and to make corrections as we learned more about the process. Even today, as my team has been utilizing the codes, I still review them and talk to my staff about their code selection. We are always learning and getting better at it.

I think our industry needs to uncover the knowledge hidden in our databases. The tools now exist to aptly mine the information contained in our CMMS systems. Will it be perfect the first time you try? Probably not, but by working through the issues you will learn and eventually you will get the answer you want.

We have been documenting our maintenance activities since the beginning of time, initially on paper and now on computers. Technology has afforded us an opportunity that we have not really taken advantage of as an industry. When we were documenting on paper it would have been a monumental task to try to analyze our activities on a large scale, but today it should be easy. I understand that there are many different CMMS systems from complex programs that can manage all aspects of a technician’s life to a simple Microsoft Access database or Excel file. The basic activity is still the same. There is an equipment list, and work activities on equipment are documented. Imagine what we can learn from this information if we take the time to analyze the data. Imagine how we could leverage this information to help influence change in medical equipment design and improve safety. To me, this activity makes us more valuable than checking an electronic thermometer to see if it still works.

This is something the HTM community can do and we can help each other as needed.

Jim Fedele, CBET, has been with Medical Dealer magazine for more than 12 years. He is currently the director of clinical engineering for Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport, Pa. He can be reached for questions and/or comments by email at info@mdpublishing.com.