Published: Feb 20 2020

Game Changing Data Insights to Improve Equipment Capital Planning

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What's in this episode?

In Season 1, Episode 7, Al Gresch, Michael Garel and special guest Valerie Lynch, Solutions Specialist at Attainia, discuss game changing strategies to improve Capital Equipment Planning for Clinical Engineering Teams.

Full transcript:

Welcome to the Healthcare Chats podcast where your hosts, Al Gresch and Mike Zimmer will bring you insights to take your HTM and HFM from the basement to the board room. Healthcare Chats podcast starts now

Al Gresch: So welcome today to the latest edition of our healthcare podcast series. We're here in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona at the Attainia Community Summit 2020.

Valerie Lynch: 2020.

Al Gresch: Yes. And I'm here with Michael Garel with Accruent and our guest today is Valerie Lynch with Attainia.

Valerie Lynch: Thanks for having me.

Al Gresch: Yeah, it's great to have you, Valerie. So why don't you give us a little bit of background on yourself and where you came from, how you got to Attainia?

Valerie Lynch: Absolutely. I have a background in medical equipment planning. I was a planner in-house for a large hospital system in the mid-Atlantic and started there pretty fresh. I didn't really know too much about medical equipment planning and what went into it but learned on the job and learned fast.

I actually was part of a team at the hospital that brought Attainia in and helped implement it to the current process so that we actually had an equipment planning process, versus just scattered lists and random spreadsheets that lived in people's minds or on a hard drive of a computer. I really helped actually develop their process for planning in-house and creating budgets and getting the process moving so that it was repeatable and sustainable.

From there, I transitioned into the GPO world, where I worked in the capital and construction environment, helping clients all across the United States with their capital construction projects, leveraging their GPO contracts, and really helping them with purchase services, contracts, and anything that they needed help with on that capital and construction side of the house. I have a lot of background in the construction world, something I never thought I'd say standing here, from the beginning of my career, but it's been an interesting ride and I'm very happy to be with Attainia right now.

I'm a sales specialist, so I do the demos for potential clients and get to talk to them about how the process works, what they're actually going to accomplish when they log into Attainia and start using the workflows and planning equipment, creating budgets for future projects, or using templates to create wish list items. Right? There's something about wanting to get all that information that you're absorbing from the clinical team or high-level thoughts and project ideas, and you may not be able to afford to do it now or want to do the construction projects now, but capturing that information so that you're ready to go with the medical equipment when the time comes to start planning those projects.

Al Gresch: That's awesome, Valerie. You really know the process and the personas that you need to work in order to be successful in doing effective capital planning. Right?

Valerie Lynch: Absolutely.

Al Gresch: I'm curious because our software supports both Facilities Engineering and Biomed groups. Tell us how you interacted with that group in developing the platform that you built out, where you were doing capital planning.

Valerie Lynch: That's a great question and I would like to say we interacted and it was a well-oiled machine and we had the team all together at the table. But unfortunately, because there are a lot of moving parts and pieces in the personas that go into a Healthcare construction project, there are so many different audience members, so many people that need to meet to get to the table and oftentimes, unfortunately, not everybody's able to get there. There are critical pieces of information along the process that are often missing.

And one of the big things for us, at our Healthcare system, was the Clinical Engineering, that we had just a little bit of a disconnect, we just couldn't quite get on the same page, which is unfortunate because in a construction project, once the patients are in and the contractors go away, it's Biomed that owns the equipment and they're responsible for making sure that it's working, keeping the patient safe, keeping the nurses happy because it's up and running. And if they're not involved early on in the process, they may not know what they're walking into and what they have to own. I love the idea of incorporating the [Accruent’s] Data Insights because it gives the Biomed or the Clinical Engineering a seat at the table because we're bringing them in, asking their opinion, and getting them involved early.

Al Gresch: I see you picked up on there was a specific reason why I asked that question.

Valerie Lynch: Maybe I did!

Al Gresch: Because yeah, that's fairly common, that they don't have a seat at the table and it's our feeling, through this partnership, that we would be able to bridge that gap and help get clinical engineering, or HTM departments, more involved in the long-term capital planning process.

Valerie Lynch: Absolutely. They need to be involved, and for whatever reason, schedules oftentimes don't mesh well and bringing them in early, or they're brought in too late and decisions are already made, the drawings are already stamped so it's too late to make some critical changes that the facility needs to keep a well-oiled machine.

Valerie Lynch: One of the more interesting things that I've found with thinking about utilizing [Accruent’s] Data Insights when you're doing early planning for a project is the flow of the equipment lifecycle. The Clinical Engineers have to do training, they have to have parts on hand, they have to know the systems that they're working on. And if you throw in the new make, new manufacturer, new model, then they may not have the training so the systems could be down longer, meaning no patient care or a lapse inpatient care. Or they may not have the parts available because they stock X-Y-Z parts in their warehouse so now the time that to get this back up and running is even longer, which nurses are upset and they're having to create workarounds, patients aren't getting the care that they need. And it's more expensive for the hospital because now they have to spend more man-hours training and more money to get extra attic stock or extra warehousing parts.

Al Gresch: Yeah. Having lived through some of that myself, I know firsthand that not every project involves all new equipment. Oftentimes there's equipment that you're moving from existing departments.

Valerie Lynch: Reusing.

Al Gresch: And again, I know from my own experience, there were devices in the plan where I was like, "Backup the bus here, that stuff is on its last leg." You do not want to plan to move that stuff around. And if you think about the timeframe between when a project starts planning and by the time that elapses between them and when you start moving stuff in. Yeah. It can be a year, year and a half, sometimes two years. Right.

Valerie Lynch: And that will quickly bust a budget.

And no one wants to have that on their hands when the project's wrapping up, knowing that the equipment that you plan to reuse is not in its best shape. And you don't want to start a new brand-new space or a new shiny area for bringing patients in any kind of equipment that its useful life is you just around the corner. Constantly having to trade it out for replacement or maintenance or what have you.

Al Gresch: Great, thanks. Oh, Michael, you were on stage this morning at the keynote talking about the power of this partnership and what data insights could bring to bring value to Attainia customers. So why don't you talk a little bit about that?

Michael Garel: So we announced a partnership this morning, we showed a demo of an integration that we've built between data insights and Attainia, and the reason why is because we feel that you can complete that whole understanding of the cost of operation of equipment, that whole lifecycle cost of equipment, by taking things like purchase costs that Attainia can provide, as well as lifecycle cost that [Accruent’s] Data insights can provide, and give the customer kind of this full picture of what it's going to actually cost them to buy own, maintain that equipment and it's pretty great. We've had a number of conversations so far with some of the Attainia's customers with the Supply Chain and Equipment Planners. It seemed to really like the idea of bringing data to the table to help guide their decisions.

Valerie Lynch: I think it's an interesting space because as a previous Equipment Planner, I didn't know that this data was available. I didn't think when we didn't have the answers to the questions we may have had, because no one was actively taking that from a wide base and aggregating it to get real-life numbers of what happens in the field.

Valerie Lynch: And knowing from a Planner's perspective and a Facilitator and Provider, knowing that it's not directly from the manufacturer or really what's out there in the wild that's really happening. I think it does give a little bit of peace of mind instead of just a salesperson saying, "no, no, it should last 10 years. It will last for 10 years." And maybe that's not the case.

Michael Garel: I mean we've heard from DJ [Chhabra] before that this was also something that he kind of envisioned before the customer thought of it as well.

Valerie Lynch: Right.

Michael Garel: To be able to bring more than, you know, what Attainia can get out of the Capital Planning Software to the tool through external means. And we're just seeing the potential for a more efficient planning organization. Right?

Valerie Lynch: And a total, a comprehensive planning lifecycle. You know, you're taking it from just that early phase of planning for a project and really planning for the life cycle of the equipment because the hospital is still paying for that regardless of what money that what bucket the money's coming at us, they need to know what it's going to cost on the back end once the contractors are gone.

Al Gresch: Yeah, it really struck me how well our visions aligned, right? Looking at the total capital lifecycle of equipment and you know, our solutions covered the support part of the lifecycle.

Valerie Lynch: Right.

Al Gresch: But what solutions do we have on the front-end for the planning and technology and assessment and bringing all of that information and data to bear. And then that would dovetail very nicely into the support part of the cycle. And we're actually looking at some solutions on the backend too for equipment disposition. And I would think that that's a place where we could work very well together also.

Valerie Lynch: Absolutely. And I love the idea of creating that data. The schedule of what you'll need to purchase once this equipment is beyond its useful life. So knowing what's coming up down the line of these big purchases for your forecasting, I think that's really going to help open the eyes of the financial planning team, knowing what's coming down the pike. So there are no surprises, no one likes to surprise in the hospital.

Al Gresch: No, no they don't. And I mean, I know that a lot of times because of lack of good information, bad decisions are made, right? And this is the best solution from an acquisition cost perspective, but it's literally eating our lunch on the support side of things down the road.

Al Gresch: I think this works together extremely well for our solutions to answer the questions, "What? What should we replace, and why should we replace them?" Right? And then feed that information into the Atttania solution to say, "Okay, now that you understand what you need to replace, here are your options." Right? And "here are the costs." and we can help you very, very quickly put a budget together and select those specific items and again, incorporate the reliability data to make the best decisions and then hand it off to the procurement group to acquire those and feed that information back into the Clinical Engineering and the Facilities Engineering groups to start there.

Valerie Lynch: Right, close the loop.

Al Gresch: Close the loop.

Valerie Lynch: Help make thoughtful decisions on what you're purchasing. And in the GPO world, we talked about, it's not just the price of the pump so to speak, it's not just that one cost for the PO to get the equipment on-site and use it. There are additional costs that you have to take into consideration, but what makes sense for your organization? And having reliable information to make thoughtful choices I think will help in the long run, these facilities forecast better so their budgets are tighter and keep the patient care moving in the right direction and the nurses happy and patients back home.

Al Gresch: Yeah. I've had numerous conversations with a wide variety of your clients that cover providers. There're some folks here that worked in the clinical engineering space. There are GPOs here, there are manufacturers here and they're all interested in the solution and what power that data grant.

Valerie Lynch: Absolutely.

Al Gresch: I think it's exciting.

Valerie Lynch: And with the integration that we have with the two platforms, it makes it really easy for the Planner to take that information, ask the question to the right audience members at the planning point when those decisions need to be made and have those conversations; which may or may not be tough conversations to have; but you're having those conversations with science or data backing you up. And I think that's where the huge value in the power will surpass anything that we are thinking right now once we get it out into the world.

Al Gresch: Where do you we should be looking down the road? I mean we just really started this and there are so many opportunities.

Valerie Lynch: There are so many opportunities. Medical equipment world, things are constantly changing. The technology is constantly changing and we're always learning something new and exciting. So that's a great question. The opportunities are endless!

Al Gresch: Michael, any additional thoughts?

Michael Garel: You know, I mean one of the things I'd like to touch back on a little bit more is GPO, right. We spoke about how GPOs could use data as well. Pretty much every single hospital uses the GPO as part of their purchasing process. Where do you think the GPOs are going to fit in terms of the best practices using the data from Attainia plus data insights in helping guide their clients?

Valerie Lynch: That's a great question. Fortunately, a lot of the GPO customers view the GPOs is as a trusted partner or trusted consultant. And so the GPO is constantly combing through purchase orders and all kinds of data from the hospital looking for standardization options, looking to see where the contract isn't being readily used. So having this additional layer of information will create a better consulting, a better deliverable for the GPOs to provide back to their hospitals to say, "here are your options, and here's what's backing it up."

Valerie Lynch: And like I previously said, I don't think that information was readily available. So it was all just, "here's what we think" and that's great. And there's a lot of people out there with a wealth of knowledge living in their head, some past experiences. But actually putting some power behind those thoughts and plans and proposals I think gives the GPOs a real opportunity. At the end of the day, GPOs want to help save money and this is something that even just implementing standards and, helping standardize what's in the hospitals from an equipment side.

Al Gresch: Yeah, it's a question I often ask when I do consult with hospital systems in looking at their clinical engineering services. One of the questions I ask is, is there a level of standardization that exists? Obviously from a GPOs perspective, if you can sole-source something, you're going to get better pricing. But think about it from a training perspective, right? And a competency perspective. If I only have one manufacturer version of pick a modality, CT; MRI, infusion pump; patient monitor, it's easy to keep my guys trained and competent to support that versus 16 different flavors of the same type of device.

Valerie Lynch: Right. Right. That's a time saving, so that's a money-saving. And at the end of the day, it even comes down to patient safety because the clinical team knows what they're working with regardless of what room, or what wing, the department they're walking into.

Al Gresch: Well and the [Accruent’s] Data Insights information is really going to bring further value to that because if I make a bad decision and we're standardized across the system, that can turn into a lot of hours and a lot of money that's spent unnecessarily. Right?

Valerie Lynch: Right, to fix it. Yeah. I love the idea of having the ability to make thoughtful choices when presented with these decisions and not making them in a vacuum as a planner or you know, within a project. Really thinking about the whole and what's going to happen once the project is over.

Al Gresch: Yeah. Anything else, Michael?

Michael Garel: No, I think we've covered it all.

Al Gresch: Okay, well listen, Valerie, I really appreciate you spending the time with us today. I think we're all very, very excited about this partnership and what it's going to bring to our respective companies, but certainly for our customers.

Valerie Lynch: Oh, I think the customers are going to be very pleased with what we're going to be rolling out to them very shortly.

Al Gresch: All right, well great. Thank you so much.

Valerie Lynch: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Happy to be here.

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