CMMS supported preventive maintenance makes a lot of sense for healthcare facilities because it shares a lot of principles with preventive medicine. Both are about finding small issues before they have a chance to develop into serious problems. Both involve regular check-ups scheduled according to a careful evaluation of risk factors. The best time to see your doctor is before something goes wrong, and it's the same with your maintenance technician.
Let's look at the ideas behind preventive maintenance and how they work in healthcare.
Maintenance departments are just like doctors
Imagine you're meeting a new doctor. She's going to ask your age, personal medical history, and what illnesses run in the family. Next, she's going to see how tall you are and then how much you weigh. She'll ask if you smoke and how often you exercise. She's looking for risk factors, which help her determine how often she needs to see you and what tests to run. Carefully scheduled check-ups give her the best chance at keeping you healthy because they give her the best chance at detecting illnesses early.
It's the same with preventive maintenance. Imagine now that you're setting up a preventive maintenance schedule for a hospital. What information do you need to collect about each asset? According to certified healthcare facility manager Valerie Laktash at Placentia-Linda Hospital in Placentia, your list needs to be as comprehensive as possible. The following is a small sample of her suggestions.
- Asset number
- Mission criticality
- Availability of alternate devices
- Failure frequency
- Repair cost
- Manufacturer guidelines
- Department (Remember this one. It gets mentioned again soon.)
Maintenance departments break the Hippocratic Oath
What happens next with your data-rich list? Here our analogy sort of breaks down. Doctors are careful about patients' confidentiality. But Laktash argues there are benefits to widely sharing asset data. She suggests sending a copy of the list to each department in the healthcare facility so they know which assets are theirs and that they should be on the lookout for trouble. She explains:
"... departmental employees are responsible for point-of-use maintenance ... and a visual check performed on all fittings and accessories. It is important for clinical users to understand the reason and function of the equipment to an extent that they can be alert to changes in the equipment ... to preclude any safety concerns"
It's great when staff can find issues, as long as there is a simple, reliable way to report them. A good CMMS software will not only keep all your preventive maintenance schedules and send you alerts when preventive work orders are due, but also accept work order tickets and forward them to the maintenance department. As soon as someone notices a problem, they can log in to the CMMS through their desktop or smartphone. With customizable permissions, general hospital staff will likely only be able to submit simple tickets while the maintenance manager can approve and delegate data-rich work orders. Check out Simplify Work Order Management at Your School with CMMS to find out more about the ins and outs of CMMS work orders. That blog post is about schools specifically, but the information applies to most industries.
Preventive maintenance prescribes a healthy routine
Once you have your list of assets, you can start building a preventive maintenance schedule. If you clicked over to Is a Facility Audit Right for Your CMMS Set Up?, you already know that a good CMMS provider can help you get everything scheduled. Hippo can either build it from scratch or beef up your existing schedule of PMs.
A preventative maintenance schedule should also include dates for all required testing and recalibration of sensitive assets. It's going to depend on the asset and the manufacturer's recommendations for how often these happen, but keep in mind that some assets take more planning than others. Recalibrating a digital scale takes a minute and can be done by anyone working in the lab. But complex diagnostic and imaging systems often require the patience and attention of a specialist. Once everything has been added to the preventive maintenance calendar built into your CMMS, you can set up advance email alerts, giving you enough time to get organized with third-party vendors.
Maintenance departments fine-tune dose and dosage
Preventive maintenance is not an absolute cure for unscheduled downtime and repairs. Unfortunately, even the healthiest patients get sick sometimes. When this happens, it's important to get the asset back up and running as quickly as possible. Once that's done, it's time to re-evaluate the schedule. By comparing an asset's repair history with its preventive maintenance schedule, you can see where you're going to need to make changes. It might be the case that the breakdown was caused by something you weren't looking at during the scheduled inspections. Every six months you confirm the blanket and fluid warmer can hit its advertised temperature ranges, but when it eventually breaks it's because of a frayed electrical cord. Or, it might be the case that there is too much time between inspections. For example, by looking at the repair history for a gas module, you might notice it tends to break down and need recalibration every 12 months, but inspections are 18 months apart.
Preventive maintenance is your ounce of prevention
Even though it's not an absolute cure, a well-planned preventive maintenance schedule has many benefits. It contributes to the quality of patient care because it reduces downtime and ensures assets are safe, reliable, and accurate. It saves money because it helps avoid budget-busting unexpected repairs and replacements. It's always less expensive to replace a small seal, for example, every six months than to replace an entire machine every five years.
It's also good for your mental health. The old model of running something until it suddenly breaks is unpredictable and inherently stressful. Preventive maintenance in healthcare, or really any industry, makes planning and delegating work orders easier. Most days, you go into work each day knowing exactly what you'll have to do, not worrying about the next unforeseen disaster. And because you're not always working reactively, pulled in endless directions and stretched thin, when there is an emergency, you're better prepared to tackle it.