In this Business Profile, James Willett, CEO, and Jim Fanelli, CFO, TriMedx, share strategies for elevating clinical engineering through innovative management programs.

Tell me a little about your organization.

James Willett: Created by and for health care in 1998, TriMedx started as a clinical engineering department at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. Today, TriMedx has more than 850 skilled biomedical, laboratory, and imaging technicians and managers and serves more than 1,200 facilities nationwide, from large health systems to small clinics, surgery centers, and labs. TriMedx Healthcare Technology Management provides a cost-effective, low-risk model for hospitals to move toward clinical engineering excellence. The TriMedx program is designed to simplify and streamline clinical engineering processes while tracking, documenting, and measuring service performance—all in an effort to provide an enhanced level of accountability and focus while helping hospitals realize significant cost savings. TriMedx uses an InSource model that elevates the capabilities and skills of the existing hospital staff by providing the necessary technology, training, and teamwork to deliver clinical engineering excellence and maximize utilization of medical equipment assets.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see affecting healthcare organizations?

TriMedx Jim FanelliJim Fanelli: Hospital and vendor consolidation is bringing greater awareness to the savings opportunities that have been buried in nonclinical purchased services. One significant cost contributor to nonclinical purchased services is clinical engineering. Whether in-house or outsourced, clinical engineering accounts for approximately 5 to 10 percent of nonclinical purchased services—significantly more than what is often perceived. Uncovering all costs associated with clinical engineering and consolidating this function can deliver up to 20 percent in clinical engineering cost savings.

The biggest challenge lies in the fact that the clinical engineering spend has some of the toughest costs to uncover. For most health systems, the function is severely fragmented and the expenses tend to be spread across various departments in the general ledger.

Without knowing how to navigate these challenges, hospitals risk incurring ongoing, escalating expenses in hidden areas and missing out on significant and sustainable savings opportunities. Often a root cause of high costs relating to clinical engineering is poor management of service contracts or lack of planning around demand for services.

How is TriMedx addressing these needs?

Fanelli: Over the years, we’ve led healthcare providers to considerable savings and newfound efficiencies while supporting high-quality care through our unique service delivery strategy. The TriMedx philosophy for superior service is decreasing medical equipment service costs while increasing equipment uptime and response time without compromising care. We accomplish this by increasing the availability and level of expertise of in-house staff, closely monitoring equipment preventive maintenance schedules, and reducing reliance on OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and vendor service contracts.

This process begins with performing a current-state assessment to understand the total cost of ownership for all medical equipment and identifying savings opportunities. In addition, TriMedx collaborates with key stakeholders within the system to choose the best combination of services and resources. Because we’ll build on the skillset of the team already in place, the transition to a fully in-house program is seamless and low-risk and allows for improved quality of service and patient safety. 

What are some key considerations for healthcare leaders when choosing the right vendor to partner with?

Willett: Consider access to resources. TriMedx utilizes the best technology available in the clinical engineering service industry to deploy a comprehensive lifecycle management program that provides optimal savings and operational efficiencies with all medical equipment. Our state-of-the-art, computerized maintenance management system is the most innovative, comprehensive, and reliable platform in the industry. The system provides our team with real-time data so we can best manage healthcare equipment maintenance and repair requests. Because the team has all of an organization’s inventory information available at the touch of a finger, TriMedx has some of the fastest call-response times in the industry.

In addition, our proprietary computerized maintenance management system offers service and financial reporting tools that allow hospitals to monitor equipment performance, track program effectiveness, and meet regulatory standards. Users receive device information, such as age and value; maintenance service cost histories; preventive maintenance schedules; work order views; device reports; and inventories.

Also, when it comes to parts procurement, TriMedx is a leader. Our seasoned sourcing specialists manage the parts purchases and invoices for more than 8,000 purchase orders on a monthly basis, giving us bulk-purchasing power to obtain the best part for each repair based on quality, service cost, and uptime requirements.

With the TriMedx dedicated regulatory compliance team, customers receive expert regulatory guidance for all devices in the hospital inventory. The team also facilitates instant communication electronically of all safety recalls and alert notices that impact a hospital’s equipment.

What advice would you offer to healthcare leaders as they seek to optimize their processes? 

Willett: Centralizing clinical engineering does not require cutting existing staff. The best approach is a method we refer to as an InSourced solution, which blends the strengths of an in-house team with the necessary tools, technology, and training to deliver clinical engineering excellence and maximum asset utilization, from capital equipment planning to maintenance and support to end-of-life management. With this type of program, hospitals receive nonbiased, evidence-based support to effectively manage the complete lifecycle and total costs of medical equipment.

Any last advice?

Fanelli: Because it is so easy for clinical engineering costs to remain hidden throughout the hospital, it’s important to not only conduct a current-state assessment that will examine all costs both listed in clinical engineering and in each department throughout the system, but also manually track down hard copies of every service agreement.

Also, a financial assessment to determine the total spend should look at the run rate of current service contracts on all modalities as well as purchased parts, service demand, and annualized labor rates for technicians, including benefits, overtime, training, and so forth. The assessment should be able to scrutinize all expenses within clinical engineering over several years to uncover trending.

This task can be daunting and is easier and more cost-effective to accomplish by partnering with an expert, such as TriMedx, who has experience in uncovering true costs and can align with your mission, vision, and long-term goals as a hospital.

Are there any educational materials you would like to share to help healthcare providers in these efforts?

Willett: Our website has a lot of great resources. I would particularly recommend the following white papers.

HFMA is the nation’s leading membership organization for more than 40,000 healthcare financial management professionals. This Business Profile is funded through advertising with leading solution providers. Learn more.

Content for this Business Profile is supplied by TriMedx. This published piece is provided for advertisement purposes. HFMA does not endorse the published material or warrant or guarantee its accuracy. The statements and opinions of those profiled are those of the individual and not those of HFMA. References to commercial manufacturers, vendors, products, or services that appear do not constitute endorsement by HFMA.  


Publication Date: Saturday, November 01, 2014