AAMI Names Top 10 Medical Device Challenges

Healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals face a number of challenges as they make sure the equipment they maintain provides safe and effective care. A recent survey, which includes responses from 195 hospitals across the United States, reveals what problems keep them up at night.

Ensuring that networked devices and systems work properly topped the list of medical device-related challenges, according to the results of a survey commissioned by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), a nonprofit organization that supports the healthcare community in the development, management, and use of safe and effective medical technology.

The survey, the results of which appear in the September/October issue of AAMI’s BI&T (Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology) journal, found that 62 percent of those surveyed rate the networking issue as “challenging” or “extremely challenging.” Meanwhile, 52 percent name integrating data into electronic health records as their top concern. Maintaining infusion pump systems (44 percent) came in at No. 3.

The results reflect those seen in previous AAM-commissioned surveys, indicating that there are no easy solutions for these ongoing complex problems.  Other challenges making the list are cybersecurity, device incident reporting, recalls, spectrum and wireless management, battery management, endoscope management, and nonhospital devices being brought in by patients.

In addition to the top 10 list, the issue features a cover story on the rising tide of mobile devices being brought into facilities by clinicians and patients-also known as the “bring your own devices” (BYOD) trend. While the rise of BYOD could help to enhance communication between clinicians, there are potential pitfalls, including the introduction of new vulnerabilities to patient data security. Hospitals could face stiff fines for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which deals in part with the need to safeguard patient information.

The story provides an overview of BYOD policies at several healthcare facilities as they try to balance enhanced communications with patient privacy. Indeed, many experts say it is vital to have a BYOD policy in place.

“The trend is moving toward broader support of BYOD and mobility within healthcare,” says Trent Fierro, a senior manager at Aruba Networks, which specializes in mobility application solutions. “As clinicians and staff may use their personal devices in nonsanctioned ways on the hospital network, the need to secure patient data and manage HIPAA-privacy requirements is driving the need for security-centric policies.”

Other articles in the latest BI&T include a call to improve patient safety through better collaboration between the HTM and sterile processing teams; an FAQ document on small-bore connectors and tubing misconnections; and an interview with a hospital executive whose facility was on the frontlines after the Boston Marathon bombings.

BI&T has a readership of nearly 13,000 and is a benefit of AAMI membership. The award-winning bimonthly journal is dedicated to the developers, managers, and users of medical devices and technology.

Source: Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI)