Obsolescence: Time can be an ally or adversary

Obsolescence can be a scary word for acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinics and other medical facilities. Obsolescence occurs when something doesn’t work or is no longer useful, and parts, services and resources are no longer provided by the original equipment manufacturer.
Today, in the first of a series of blogs, we’ll discuss what obsolescence is and the impact it could have on medical facilities.
The idea that a critical component in an operating room (OR), sterilizing processing department (SPD), lab or other key area can suddenly not function – and then be difficult to fix or replace – can be a nightmare for medical administrators. An empty OR, for instance, is an underperforming asset that can dramatically impact the bottom line of any facility.
Unfortunately, that scenario can be all too real in many medical settings.

Multiple costs to obsolescence

In any facility, equipment being obsolete or approaching an out-of-service date can cause a bigger disruption in patient care and overall performance. SPDs, for instance, are often considered the “heartbeat” of a hospital. Being able to efficiently sterilize surgical instruments will keep ORs humming while generating much-needed income. An OR that needs to be rebuilt can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and many months or even years to complete, especially if key parts are delayed.
Whatever the reason, unscheduled down time related to obsolescence can be costly in multiple ways, further underscoring the need to plan ahead.
“Most facilities have back up surgical tables in the event one is down,” Keckler explained. “In contrast, if a hospital’s SPD is down, it is costly financially as well as in relationships with surgeons and patients. It can affect the reputation of a facility as well as patient satisfaction. Equipment must be operationally efficient in order to deliver quality patient care. The consequences of obsolescence are just endless.”

Next: In Part 2 of our series, we’ll discuss how to identify obsolescence in medical facilities.