6 Strategies to Reduce the Costs Associated With Your Medical Equipment

6 strategies to reduce the costs associated with your medical equipment

Since the dawn of the NHS back in 1948 our basic offering has remained the same – healthcare free at the point of consumption – but the equipment we use to provide healthcare has changed beyond all recognition.

There isn’t an acute trust that wouldn’t grind to a halt immediately if you took away their medical equipment, no matter how good their doctors and nurses are.

So, when’s the right time to mothball (or list on Ebay?!) your existing medical equipment and buy some new stuff instead?

Working up and down the country we’ve seen NHS finance departments react to this challenge across the full spectrum, from sticking their heads in the sand all the way to active engagement with clinical and procurement colleagues.

The technical way to do it is to perform a medical technology assessment (MTA), looking at safety, performance and impact on clinical and non-clinical outcomes. This can be time consuming though, especially for a resource strapped finance team.

What’s the answer then?

Working with trusts over the last 12 years the most effective assessments we’ve seen, in terms of use of time and resources, have 6 commonalities:

1). User Training

How much will it cost you to retrain your clinical and nursing staff to use new equipment? Can these costs be built into the purchase price when negotiating with suppliers? Can these costs be split with other local providers who are procuring the same equipment?

2). Compliance with regulatory guidance

New regulatory guidance can sometimes lead to forced obsolescence of equipment. You may be able to put in place work-around solutions in order to mitigate against this, but you should have a risk register in place ranking equipment and the associated levels of liability associated with them.

3). Patient Safety

Is your trust using equipment that could potentially fail? Are you keeping an eye on whether other trusts are experiencing incidents with specific pieces of equipment?

4). Continuing Reliability

Are you beginning to experience difficulties in sourcing spare parts or accessories? Is your legacy equipment providing a lower standard of care than could be expected by patients? Is the time it takes to service or repair equipment impacting on patient care?

5). Cost Of Repairs

Are you monitoring repair expenses to check whether they justify the replacement of a piece of equipment? There are classes of equipment that are cheap to buy, but expensive to repair or service. Sometimes replacement is actually cheaper than repair.

6). Notification of End-of-Life

Has the equipment’s manufacturer issued an end-of-life notice? Even reliable equipment will be adversely affected by this. This is another area that should be under regular review.

NHS Capital spending is currently coming under intense pressure as trusts look to convert monies into revenue spending in an attempt to balance their books. A thorough assessment of medical equipment will lead to more effective spending and therefore increased value for money.

6 Ways To Enhance Patient Safety


Assista Briefing Note 77 Preview Pic

Click on the picture above for a printable PDF

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that human beings don’t function as well at night as we do through the day. There’s a wealth of evidence to back this up. Obviously, there’s no getting around the night shift in the NHS, but there are some things we can do to increase productivity, improve the working environment and minimise errors.

  1. Rely on Each Other

Nowhere is team work more important than on the night shift. Try to create an environment where employees, in particular nurses, are encouraged to voice their opinion if they see something that could be a potential error. By building a system that ensures everybody is responsible for double checking things e.g. medication doses, and therefor sharing the accountability, workers will feel grateful when somebody stops and questions them, rather than feeling affronted.

  1. Break the Routine

Look into new, innovative research surrounding shift patterns. Studies show that the most valuable, replenishing sleep happens between the hours of 9pm and 3am. Shift models that emphasise this importance are being tested and implemented across the U.S right now.

Look into the benefits of reducing the typical 12 hour shift to 8 hours, ensuring workers have more time for rest during the ideal sleeping hours. Compensate night shift workers in a tangible way – pay these shifts higher, enable them to work less yet receive equal pay. Consider rotating shifts forward (morning – evening – night) to correspond with natural circadian rhythms.

  1. Take a Break.

The benefits of taking breaks are now understood and well documented. However, the notion of a ‘tea/coffee’ break is becoming outmoded by more effective methods of relaxing. For example, during shifts, napping and exercise are great ways to refresh and increase the release of endorphins. Hospitals should reflect on the paybacks of providing fitness rooms or sleeping quarters for their staff.

  1. Food for Thought

The fuel that night shift workers put into their body should be seriously considered. For ease and to combat hunger, carb rich foods seems like the best option, however these cause lethargy and sluggishness about an hour after consumption. It’s not ideal to have integral members of your staff relying on vending machines. Offer foods that are high in protein – meats, cheeses and olives. If keeping the cafeteria open all night stretches budgets constraints too much, having cold foods prepared, such as the examples above, during the day and having a cafeteria worker distribute through the night could be a solution to consider.

  1. Utilise Real-Time Pharmacists.

If your most active clinical units are A&E or the intensive care unit, try appointing a dedicated space for pharmacists where they can review dosages and be of assistance with regards to medication questions. Despite some areas of hospitals having fewer patients at night, the intensity to which patients require attention are usually increased. This could cause a rise in the need to quickly administer medication – having someone readily available for specific advice would be of great value.

  1. Gifting Goes a Long Way

Finally, recognition of the impact working unsociable hours has on an employee can go a long way to improve the general moral. Try sending regular e-mails with tips and advice on the best way to combat tiredness and cope with a night shift – especially to juniors. Consider night shift packs, including things like ear plugs, sleep masks, de-caffeinated drinks and fruit, which are inexpensive to provide but will been seen as a token of appreciation.