Mar 21, 2022
By Kate Camerlin

How To Take Your CMMS and Data Management to the Next Level: Advice from HTM Industry Experts

It’s no longer an option for healthcare technology management (HTM) departments to have incomplete and inaccurate information about the devices they maintain. “Clean” data that is consistent, thorough, and follows industry-approved nomenclature is now a necessity due to the flood of information that today’s HTM teams receive about equipment alerts, recalls, cyber threats, manufacturer updates, and more. However, maintaining accurate data across thousands of devices is a challenge.

The following article outlines examples of effective data management as illustrated by a panel of HTM leaders who use the Nuvolo Connected Workplace for Healthcare solution, as well as some of Nuvolo’s partners. The panel includes representatives from a range of healthcare systems, including Blake Collins, Director of Clinical Engineering at ChristianaCare; Carter Groome, CEO at First Health Advisory; Barbara Maguire, Vice President of Healthcare Technology Management at ISS Solutions and Geisinger Hospital & Health; Mark Manning, Division Chair of Healthcare Technology Management at Mayo Clinic; and Tom Toczylowski, Assistant Director of Healthcare Product Alerts at ECRI.

Read on to learn why having clean data in your CMMS is crucial. The article provides a look at how Nuvolo Connected Workplace for Healthcare can help and offers advice about data management and device security. To watch the complete video with all of the panelists’ insights, check out the recording.

Why Data Management Is Critical

When you’re tracking thousands of assets, it’s vital to not only have clean data, but to make sure you’re capturing the right information about each device.

There are several ways that a dataset can be considered incomplete: information might either be inaccurate, or it could be completely missing. Both scenarios cause issues. For example, if your team needs to find all their infusion pumps due to a recall, it becomes nearly impossible if the information in your CMMS is inaccurate (and, more importantly, this can also cause its own set of regulatory and liability issues). Instead of relying on your inventory data, you’ll have to dispatch technicians to manually locate all machines, leading to delays and (depending on how many devices are affected) significantly increasing the workload for your team.

Additionally, in an instance where equipment is made vulnerable due to a cybersecurity incident (such as the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack), it’s important for teams to know how many devices connect to the network and what version of operating system and firmware they’re running. If you’re not capturing that information in a single, modern CMMS like the Nuvolo Connected Workplace solution, it is impossible to identify all your network-connected assets.

That’s why it’s so important to address this issue proactively; with proper data management, technicians spend less time reacting to gaps in inventory information, and they can instead focus on their day-to-day work. Having clean data ensures more predictable experiences for technicians. Work orders come in with the correct data, including information about contracts and where the device is located.

Additionally, when all relevant information is managed in your CMMS, it’s easier to create meaningful dashboards that the HTM department can share with other departments—including with clinical, IT, facilities, environmental services, and supply chain teams.

“With some of our assets, we have over 400 specific pieces of information related to a single device,” said Mark Manning, Division Chair of HTM, Mayo Clinic. “What can we do with the data now that we have it shored up, in really good shape, and more accurate than it’s ever been? Our relationship with supply chain, with audit, and with information security has matured incredibly because of what we’re able to bring to the table.”

With Nuvolo Connected Workplace for Healthcare, you can streamline how departments work together, and you can quickly create customizable, sharable reports and dashboards.

How to Improve Your Data Management Processes

To start, it’s important to consolidate your information into one CMMS; often, healthcare providers that have merged with other organizations will have several data management processes and tools in place. When all teams—including HTM, IT, facilities, and even EVS—are working in one system, it’s much easier to capture and share data seamlessly. That’s why it is important to choose a CMMS like Nuvolo Connected Workplace, which provides one integrated platform for all hospital support teams.

Additionally, it is often helpful to take a step back, identify gaps and inefficiencies in existing processes for onboarding or retiring devices—especially for those devices that store protected health information (PHI)—and then set up workflows to address the gaps.

Another best practice is to designate one person (or a team of people) to be responsible for data collection and integrity.

“One of the other things that we found has worked well is that there’s someone who’s responsible and… that they put any major adjustments or improvements to the database through a change management committee,” said Barbara Maguire, Vice President of Healthcare Technology Management at ISS Solutions and Geisinger Hospital & Health. “The committee has representation from our front-line techs, our managers, our accounting department, and our sourcing department. So that way we’ll know if we’re making a change that might affect another department.”

By assigning a specific leader or group to the task of maintaining the integrity of the data, you’re creating a focused resource who can manage the initiative.

The Importance of Integrations

Integrating with third-party tools and organizations helps automate the creation of a scalable, up-to-date device inventory.

“One of the things we’re working on right now is to integrate Ordr [a network monitoring and discovery application] with Nuvolo more heavily,” said Mark Manning, Mayo Clinic. “Essentially, our vulnerability management program is completely built per documentation and ready to roll. It’s aligned with information security’s [network monitoring] program. We just need the connection to happen, then all roads lead back to IS for reporting and tracking.”

The following is a list of common tools you can integrate directly into the Nuvolo Connected Workplace for Healthcare solution, along with reasons these integrations are useful:

  • Security monitoring tools like Armis, Asimily, Medigate, and Ordr monitor your inventory for security alerts and can enhance the data you’re capturing, reducing the time your technicians spend manually collecting and updating network-related information.
  • ECRI helps you automate the process of standardizing your device information. Organizations send ECRI their asset data, and ECRI updates it to use the correct name for the manufacturer, model, and type. Additionally, they assist with recall management. By matching recall alerts to your inventory, they can inform you when your equipment is affected by a recall or alert.
  • Connecting with tools such as Active Directory and HR databases allows you to keep organizational data for your teams and your internal customers up to date and in one place. That way, if you’re dispatching a call to a technician and it needs to be escalated to the next level of management, this information is easily accessible.

“The other thing that we have is… our RTLS [real-time locating system] and Medigate,” said Blake Collins, Director of Clinical Engineering at ChristianaCare. “And we have those integrated into our CMMS…. I can tell how long a pump or a channel has been in an area, whether it’s on, and whether it’s being used. If it’s not, then we can go grab that device and put it back into circulation so that our capital expenditure is lower and we have higher utilization.”

Ultimately, with the right integrations, you can transfer information seamlessly across departments (such as IT, facilities, and EVS), you can automate the process of keeping your complete maintenance history current, and you can more easily track utilization and other metrics.

Tips for Keeping Work Order Data Clean

How do you ensure that technicians enter data correctly as they’re working on devices and closing their tickets? This is especially pressing if you’re part of a larger organization that deals with hundreds of work orders per day.

One way is to trim down the types of codes you use (such as work order type codes, resolution codes, or problem codes).

“When we moved to Nuvolo specifically, we had a whole subset of closed codes… cause codes, et cetera,” said Blake Collins, ChristianaCare. “And we really made a concerted effort to slim that down. Keeping it simple versus expanding.”

By keeping your codes simple and based on accepted industry practices, it’s easier for technicians to choose the correct ones. If technicians need to provide more detail and context to the ticket, they can add it to the description fields.

Additionally, it is key to have documented procedures for proper data entry (in written form and/or as short training videos) outlining the correct processes for technicians and ensuring they’re trained consistently from the start. It’s a best practice for your teams to review those procedures annually and as processes are updated.

Securing Your Connected Medical Devices Against Cyber Threats

“Ransomware, supply chain attacks, breaches, talent shortages… are going to make this challenge even more acute in the next couple of years, and we need to be prepared for it.”

— Carter Groome, CEO at First Health Advisory

Not only does having accurate data enable you to create better reporting mechanisms and streamline your technicians’ processes, but it also makes it much easier to identify and resolve cyber security issues.

To do this, your data must provide a complete picture of your current security state—not what it was months ago. Vulnerabilities that affect OT, IoT, IoMT, and other connected medical devices may only impact a specific model or application. If you don’t have that data captured and easily available, then it becomes extremely time-consuming to try to cross-reference it.

Plus, risk assessments are not effective if you don’t have high fidelity data.

Clean data creates a solid baseline, and then teams can create targeted patching cadences for their devices, identifying configuration gaps and issues.

“Nuvolo is the centerpiece of the asset risk programs that we support,” said Carter Groome, First Health Advisory. “We’re really encouraged by ECRI in that you’re shining a light on these cyber and supply chain hazards that HTM managers, clinical leadership, IT security, all the way up to the board level should be paying very close attention to.”

Ultimately, having an integrated CMMS and complete datasets helps teams identify issues faster and improve incident response times—enhancing patient care.

Having One Platform for Better Device Data Management

Capturing all device information on one platform and ensuring that information is complete, accurate, and up to date is essential for today’s HTM teams.

By implementing some of the above best practices outlined by industry experts, organizations can begin to optimize their data management processes. Although the process isn’t easy, the outcome is critically important: a safer hospital and, ultimately, better patient care.

Nuvolo Connected Workplace for Healthcare can help ease this process by providing one integrated CMMS platform that connects teams and departments, and lets you do more with your data.

Interested in learning more? Watch the full podcast recording and read about Nuvolo Connected Workplace.