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Clinical Engineering Productivity and Staffing Revisited: How Should It Be Measured and Used?

Wang, Binseng ScD, CCE; Rui, Torgeir Siv. Ing; Fedele, Jim AAS, CBET; Balar, Salil MS, MBA; Alba, Timothy BS, FACHE; Hertzler, Lawrence W. MBA, BSEE, PE, CCE; Poplin, Brian DHA, FACHE, CBET

doi: 10.1097/JCE.0b013e31826cc689
FEATURE ARTICLES
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While debated for over 30 years, productivity and staffing continue to be a challenging topic for the clinical engineering (CE) community. At the core of this challenge is the lack of reliable indicators substantiated by actual data. This article reports an attempt to evaluate some traditional and newer indicators using data collected from 2 distinct sources. Results confirm early concerns that worked hours self-entered by CE staff are subject to misuse and thus should be avoided. In contrast, good statistical correlation was found for staffing data with several hospital indicators that are consistently collected and widely available. Good correlation with CE department indicators was more difficult to find, apparently because of the lack of reliable records and consistent accounting of all CE resources and expenditures. Although no single, easy-to-measure and easy-to-understand indicator emerged as a replacement for the worked-to-paid-hours ratio, it is shown that a multidimensional model can be built to benchmark productivity and staffing. Calculations from such a model are accurate, but not precise, so the results need to be interpreted carefully. With proper precautions, such comparisons can be used as a good starting point for a more detailed analysis of the differences that could reveal substantive causes such as service scope and strategy, organizational characteristics, and geographical challenges as well as opportunities for major productivity improvements.

While debated for over 30 years, productivity and staffing continue to be a challenging topic for the clinical engineering (CE) community.At the core of this challenge is the lack of reliable indicators substantiated by actual data.This article reports an attempt to evaluate some traditional and newer indicators using data collected from 2 distinct sources. Results confirm early concerns that worked hours self-entered by CE staff are subject to misuse and thus should be avoided. In contrast, good statistical correlation was found for staffing data with several hospital indicators that are consistently collected and widely available. Good correlation with CE department indicators was more difficult to find, apparently because of the lack of reliable records and consistent accounting of all CE resources and expenditures.Although no single, easy-to-measure and easy-to-understand indicator emerged as a replacement for the worked-to-paid-hours ratio, it is shown that a multidimensional model can be built to benchmark productivity and staffing. Calculations from such a model are accurate, but not precise, so the results need to be interpreted carefully.With proper precautions, such comparisons can be used as a good starting point for a more detailed analysis of the differences that could reveal substantive causes such as service scope and strategy, organizational characteristics, and geographical challenges as well as opportunities for major productivity improvements.

From ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Corresponding author: Binseng Wang, ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies, 10510 Twin Lakes Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28269 (E-mail: wang-binseng@aramark.com).

Binseng Wang, ScD, CCE, is vice president of Quality and Regulatory Compliance with ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He began his career in Brazil, working in academia, hospitals and a large health system. In the United States, he was a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health and a vice president at MEDIQ. He earned a doctorate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and certifications as CCE and ISO 9001 auditor. He has been elected fellow by the American College of Clinical Engineering and American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Torgeir Rui, Siv. Ing, is senior quantitative analyst with ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He has experience in the healthcare, energy, and automotive industries. He holds a master of science degree equivalent (Sivilingenioer) in industrial mathematics from Norwegian University of Science & Technology.

Jim Fedele, AAS, CBET, is the ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies manager at Susquehanna Health System. He began his career in 1990 as an entry-level technician, became certified as CBET in 1992, and joined ARAMARK in 2004. Jim chairs many committees for the client and was the chair of the Quality and Standards Committee for ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies.

Salil Balar, MS, MBA, is director of Technology Management with ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He worked for Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Elmira, New York, and Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, Michigan, before joining ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Gujarat University, MS biomedical engineering from Iowa State University, and MBA from Wayne State University.

Timothy Alba, BS, FACHE, is vice president of Strategic Partnerships with ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies, where he leads relationship development with large health systems and group purchasing organizations. He began his career providing management consulting in hospitals. His background includes significant work with healthcare benchmarking and comparative data systems. He holds BS degrees in industrial engineering and operations research from Virginia Tech. He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Lawrence W. Hertzler, MBA, BSEE, PE, CCE, is vice president of Operations Support with ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He began his career as a technician and has held various management positions in hospital systems and the healthcare service industry. He holds a BSEE from Purdue University and an MBA from Washington University’s Olin School of Business. He is a certified clinical engineer.

Brian Poplin, DHA, FACHE, CBET, is president of ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies. He joined the company in 1994 as a technician and has progressed through the organization. A CBET trained in the US Air Force, he completed a BS in business administration and MS in management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Additionally, he holds a doctorate in health administration and policy from the Medical University of South Carolina and is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.