The clinical engineering team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (Somerville, NJ), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, earned recognition as a finalist for ECRI's 17th Health Technology Excellence Award for implementing and managing a more structured capital equipment purchasing process.
The Health Technology Excellence Award recognizes outstanding initiatives undertaken by member healthcare institutions to improve patient safety, reduce costs, or otherwise facilitate better strategic management of health technology. For details about the winning submission and other finalists, see The Health Technology Excellence Award: Recognizing Exceptional Health Technology Management.
ECRI congratulates CJ Cruz and the rest of the clinical engineering team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset.
Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. (Image courtesy of the hospital.)
To establish a more structured process for capital equipment purchases at the hospital.
RWJUH Somerset had lacked a structured, beginning-to-end process for completing capital equipment purchases. Hospital departments would submit capital equipment requests for the coming year, but the next steps in the process—such as conducting product demonstrations or acquiring price quotes—were not well defined in terms of who would handle these tasks and how they would be completed.
The clinical engineering (CE) team spearheaded an initiative to take ownership of capital equipment purchasing from start to finish. The goal was to create a structured process to ensure that decision makers had the necessary information to make informed selection decisions.
Under the new procedure, the CE manager meets each summer with stakeholders and hospital administration to review the capital equipment requests for the upcoming capital year. For any technology being considered, the CE team assumes responsibility for setting up product demonstrations, acquiring price quotes, and communicating with hospital administration. When a purchase is made, the CE team enters information in the purchasing system, sets up education sessions, and coordinates equipment installation. Throughout the process, the team works with clinical department leaders to ensure that their equipment needs are being met.
The CE team is now fully engaged in the hospital's capital purchasing and implementation decisions. The new process ensures that relevant purchasing information is collected in a standardized way to support effective selection decisions, that purchased equipment is installed appropriately, and that staff are educated on its use.
The simple act of taking ownership of a process can yield significant improvements. The CE team members recognized that they—as the equipment experts—were uniquely positioned to assume greater responsibility for the capital equipment purchasing process. They knew which devices were due for replacement, how to set up demonstrations, how to acquire quotes, and how to implement technologies once they are purchased.
Another benefit of this project is that it helped the CE team build relationships with different departments, making it easier for all groups to achieve the common goal of providing safe and effective patient care.