Thursday, July 18, 2013

SHARE Biomed Techs' Proposal Would Save $1 Million per Year and Keep the Service In-House

The Biomed team after they presented their proposal.
(Will Erickson is missing because he took the picture.)

On Tuesday, July 9, the team of five SHARE Biomed Techs, SHARE Organizers and a process improvement consultant made their proposal to George Brenckle, Senior VP/Chief Information Officer. The proposal is the result of two months of intensive work, and contains six major ideas to make the Techs’ work more efficient and to add value to our hospital system. The proposed savings total over $1 million per year, after the first start-up year.

In April, UMass Memorial told SHARE about their plan to contract out Biomed Services. (See full article here.) The Techs' proposal is the result of SHARE’s new contract language that allows us to present an alternative to contracting out.

In the proposal, the vendor contracts (work that the in-house Biomed Techs don’t do) would be “bundled” and put out for bid, saving the hospital an amount cautiously estimated at $600,000. The five cost-saving and value-adding initiatives areas are:
  • Service Parts and Vendor Services
  • Work Order and Documentation
  • Preventive Maintenance Schedule
  • Continuous Improvement and User Education
  • New Work

These initiatives will lay the groundwork for future improvements in areas like up-time, response time, and delaying of capital expenditures for departments.
“Figuring out how to do our work in a way that was more efficient, but that didn’t sacrifice the quality our users have come to expect from us, took a lot of work.  Even though we knew a lot about what we did, we still had a lot to learn. But it ended up being a really rewarding experience, and it feels good to be taking on a new level of responsibility for our work.  I think all the time now about how we can get the work done better, and am hopeful that the hospital will give us a chance to do that.”   -- Rob Beatty, Biomed Tech
The team worked with Scott Camlin, a process improvement expert from Restructuring Associates that SHARE brought in, to analyze their work flow and come up with ways to streamline their work. 

Results from the SHARE Biomed User survey proved very helpful. (If you filled it out – thank you very much! See results here.)
“I’ve worked for both types of Clinical Engineering service groups -- third party and in-house programs -- and I believe a well-run in-house CE program works out better both financially and logistically for the Hospital. We can provide higher quality service than an outside vendor while controlling all decisions regarding staffing, cost and approach to all the Clinical Engineering service needs of the UMass Memorial Healthcare system." -- Paul Doherty, Biomed Tech
“In the recent past, UMass Memorial has sold Home Health and the outreach labs. SHARE members worry what services are next to be sold or contracted out. The Biomed techs do a great job in our department, and we know we can count on them – we hope they stay in-house!” -- Denise Page, PCA II, University Campus Emergency Dept
SHARE believes that the best way to streamline work and improve quality is to fully involve the employees. “We hope that the Biomed project is just the beginning for SHARE members helping to improve patient care throughout our hospitals,” said Will Erickson, SHARE Organizer. “True engagement in fixing problems together is the best way to change the culture at UMass Memorial.”

To see the full SHARE Biomed proposal, click here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bill Walker, SHARE Biomed Tech, Talks about Contracting out Biomed

Bill Walker is one of the SHARE Biomed Techs who helped with the proposal to UMass Memorial to save money and keep the Biomed service in-house. He works on the University Campus. Here's what Bill has to say about the idea of contracting out Biomed:
"We all know that costs have to be reduced as healthcare changes, and we do not argue that point. We do, however, argue that in many cases, after a few years of a hospital not having control over the quality of service, and actually finding that the savings are not really there, that the service is once again brought back in house, with great expense to re-hire, re-train, and re-tool. 
Some of the current techs MAY be asked to join the new company. The problem there is that the new company will sign the paychecks, and you can't work for two masters. The "buy in" you get from people who care about our patients and the quality of the service we provide will no longer be the priority.  Profit for the new company will.
Here in the Biomed shop at University, we have over 250 combined years of experience in our field. The Memorial and Hahnemann shops are equally well-experienced.  I love coming to work every day -- I work with the best team of professionals that I have worked with in the 35 years I have been repairing medical equipment. I always try to make our patients' stay here as wonderful as possible, in any way I can. 
 I love this place, and I bring my family here for care. My name is among the many donors to the Emergency Fund on the plaque in the Atrium because of the care my family has received, particularly my autistic son Josh, who is a frequent flyer in our ED. 
My teammates and I want to remain hospital employees, as we strive to make our services even better."