'Clinical Need' Should Guide Purchasing Decisions, Says CTO

July 1, 2017

Categories: AAMI News

Healthcare facilities can realize substantial cost savings if they use systems engineering principles to evaluate clinical needs, processes, and workflows as they purchase and deploy technology.

That was the message of Eliezer Kotapuri, chief clinical technology officer for Mass Technologies, who spoke at the AAMI 2017 Conference & Expo last month.

Kotapuri cited an Institute of Medicine report that stated the healthcare system wasted an estimated $765 billion in 2009, which was more than the entire budget of the Department of Defense. Although many factors contributed to this waste, including fraud and duplication of efforts, ineffective deployment of clinical technology also played a significant role.

Care of patients—and how the technology will affect the quality of care—should be the primary force underlying all capital purchases, according to Kotapuri.

“The clinical need should drive technology rather than the technology itself or cost,” he said.

Striking the proper balance between operational and organizational efficiencies is vital to effective capital purchases. To achieve this balance, Kotapuri said a facility must start by asking the right questions. For example: Is there enough space to execute the project? Can the current ceiling height accommodate the technology? How is the real estate in the ceiling or floor used, and what takes precedence (e.g., determining whether surgical lights will reach the area of interest)? Are the correct utilities available?

He also warned against placing a heavy emphasis on whether the space and the technology within it “look nice.” The primary concern should be whether the space and equipment are functioning to benefit the patient. Rather than trying to “shoe horn” a technology into a given space, the clinical need should guide decision making.

Kotapuri offered the following guarantee: “If the right technology is not selected, then the application and use of the technology will never be right.”