Service Tips for Keeping Your HIT Running Smoothly
When it comes to any investment, there’s rarely a “set it and forget it” option that yields good returns. Protecting your investments is key, and that’s especially true with healthcare technology. As an IT professional, you’re tasked with making sure critical systems stay up and running to support quality patient care 24/7 at your facility. On top of this, there is pressure to keep maintenance costs down and stay on top of the latest advancements. It helps to have a full team dedicated to HIT maintenance and troubleshooting to ensure that issues are addressed quickly and effectively. But even smaller departments with limited staff can do a lot to keep healthcare information technology (HIT) running smoothly with these best practices:
Touchscreens are easy to use, intuitive, and reduce the need to touch a physical keyboard. They also meet a lot of fingers on any given day, making the screen a critical fomite for HAIs. To reduce the spread of healthcare-associated infections, have a regular and rigorous cleaning/disinfecting protocol. Clean touchscreens are also more responsive, and no patient should have to wait for care while their provider clicks and touches a screen multiple times to get it working. Take an inventory of other frequently-used peripherals and input devices—all of which should be cleaned regularly. Ensure that the HIT hardware materials are compatible with cleaning agents that staff is using.
For sub-acute facilities, when it’s time to move equipment for cleaning or relocation, be sure to have a plan before you begin. ADCs, especially, should be measured to ensure proper moving clearance is available. Ensure any external cabling, wiring and attached devices such as scanners are handled carefully to avoid stretching, pinching or other damage. And when these items are put back into place, a qualified technician should always ensure that they are securely plugged in and correctly connected to the proper networks. All of this helps avoid downtime and allows staff to move on to other tasks rather than having to double back to troubleshoot carelessly installed equipment.
Regularly scheduled backups are critical for protecting against data loss in the event of power outages or computer failures. It’s also important to continually update operating systems and other software to ensure all healthcare information technology is safely and securely operating with the latest features. We also recommend testing any new software and updates before implementing them across your entire facility, confirming they are compatible with existing systems. In addition, your IT department should maintain a disaster recovery plan in case of system failures or other disruptions. And consider scheduling annual maintenance service with your equipment provider or qualified technician to ensure optimal performance of all product components.
Make sure ergonomic adjustments are functioning and clinicians are able to get the equipment into a position where they can use it comfortably.
Consider other equipment that could bump into the IT hardware and cause damage, snag cables, break screens.
Consider tampering by patients and family members. Perhaps they steal items. Perhaps they unplug something so they can use a cable to charge their phone, then the HIT hardware battery dies. Perhaps a kid yanks on cables by accident or just because they’re bored.
No matter the location, the correct ambient room conditions (temperature, humidity, EMI) can add to the longevity of data centers, servers, and other types of high-performance equipment. For most technology, ambient temperature should remain between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to reference optimal conditions in your equipment’s operating instructions, then take steps to achieve them in your environment.
Medical carts are more than just convenient ways to transport tools and medications—they are the power source for computers, scanners, and other devices needed by professionals administering care. During routine cleaning, frequently touched parts of these carts usually get the most attention. But the build-up of dust in power ports can slow performance, causing components to retain heat and internal fans to work harder than necessary. Over time, this will decrease a cart’s day-to-day performance and efficiency—leading to eventual failure. So, don’t forget to vacuum dust from those problem areas—ideally before connectivity programs disrupt patient care. This is also a great time to check all cables to make sure they’re not worn and still in proper condition to make safe and solid connections.
Take the time to regularly monitor systems for performance issues and address them promptly. Keep staff trained on the use of HIT systems to ensure that they are being used effectively.
A little preventative care can go a long way in extending the life of your HIT infrastructure. For more information on TouchPoint’s preventative maintenance program, reach out to us. Take these tasks off your plate and let the experts help.