The 6 Critical Steps to Managing Obsolescence

Stacey Seward has more than 30 years of experience in the medical equipment industry. He is highly regarded as a project manager at J.M. Keckler Medical Services, Inc. When it comes to keeping up with regular maintenance and planning for obsolescence, Steward has this advice for clients: “If you don’t schedule necessary maintenance or replacement, your equipment will schedule it for you.”
Healthcare organizations that effectively plan to manage obsolescence have two major advantages over competitors.
First, they experience fewer schedule disruptions due to equipment failures and avoid the associated consequences, from lost revenue to unhappy patients. Second, everyone who can be affected by those failures — from procurement departments to repair technicians to care teams — enjoys a more stress-free environment.
Today, in the last of our three-part series on obsolescence, we’ll discuss the six crucial steps every hospital, surgery center or clinic should take to properly manage obsolescence.

  • STEP 1: Create a system for recording information on your equipment. Whether you use a spreadsheet, database or some other tool, you must record important information about your equipment — things like the dates it was manufactured, implemented and most recently serviced; your preventative maintenance records; and manufacturer-announced obsolescence-related dates, etc.
  • STEP 2: Identify an acceptable level of obsolescence. It is virtually impossible to avoid having certain assets reach obsolescence before you take action. However, some devices may not be as critical to your operations as others. It’s crucial to decide where to focus your equipment management efforts.
  • STEP 3: Create a schedule for equipment risk analysis. The frequency of this review — monthly, quarterly, annually — will vary based on the type, condition and age of your equipment, and other factors. However, you must perform reviews when the scheduled dates arrive. It’s too easy to say, “I’ll revisit the spreadsheet when work slows down a bit,” and find months or years later that you never found or made the time to do so.
  • STEP 4: Keep spare parts and manuals for equipment in one central location. When you encounter a problem with a piece of equipment or get notifications about it, you should be able to determine your next steps quickly.
  • STEP 5: Involve everyone in obsolescence management. You might have one person or a committee lead your obsolescence management efforts, but everyone in your organization should play a role. Sharing anything from observations on how a piece of equipment is performing to news about OEMs announcing new products can be helpful.
  • STEP 6: Partner with a trusted product and service provider. It’s essential to work with a company like J.M. Keckler Medical that has five decades of industry experience, a skilled and agile workforce, strong relationships with leading OEMs and a track record of attentive service. We’re an invaluable obsolescence management resource to our customers. This includes serving as consultants to help facilities assess their equipment and develop obsolescence management strategies.

No obsolescence management strategy can guarantee a smooth transition from old equipment to new in every instance. Sometimes, equipment fails early and unexpectedly. But there is tremendous peace of mind and reduced risk of down time in having a plan for keeping teams equipped, and maintaining a relationship with Keckler for rapid response and resolution when problems arise.