AAMI News October 2015

Forum to Tackle Support of Healthcare Technology

SupportabiityAAMI is planning an event next month that will bring together hospital representatives, medical device manufacturers, and other interested parties to explore solutions to vexing challenges related to the supportability of healthcare technology.

For years, healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals have voiced concerns about the availability of service manuals and documentation from manufacturers. But access to service manuals is just one piece of the broader issue of supportability.

The idea for the forum, which will be held Nov. 2–3 at AAMI headquarters in Arlington, VA, came from AAMI’s Supportability Task Force. The multidisciplinary task force defines supportability as “the degree to which a medical device or system can be effectively and economically supported, in terms of its design features and product support (information, training, technical support, tools, spare parts), throughout its life cycle.”

AAMI’s Technology Management Council (TMC) created the task force in 2012 to help address supportability issues by developing resources and increasing communication among stakeholders at a time when industry and healthcare delivery perspectives were particularly divisive. The task force soon realized that everyone has the same end goals, but different and equally important perspectives on how to achieve those goals. The November forum on supportability is an effort to increase communication and cooperation even further.

“We all need to work together on this issue if we are going to succeed,” said Ken Maddock, a member of the Supportability Task Force, the TMC, and AAMI’s Board of Directors. “Standing back and throwing rocks isn’t going to get us anywhere. Understanding what is in it for the other party, and ensuring that all parties get what they need, is the best way to achieve a successful outcome. We’ve started the conversation, which has been needed for a long time.”

Much is at stake in the discussion about supportability, including finances, liability, risk, patient safety, and job security. Other factors include business proprietary concerns, regulations, education, training, hospital hierarchy and relationships, the fast-changing nature of technology, and an appreciation for how devices and systems are increasingly interconnected.

A detailed report of the event will be compiled, which could serve as a roadmap that all parties can use to help navigate supportability issues. AAMI will report on the meeting’s outcomes in the December 2015 issue of AAMI News.

Also, two replacement parts checklists developed by the task force are available here.