5 equipment lifecycle essentials that can impact patient care

Ronda Swaney

You know the importance of keeping your biomedical assets ready to go. Clinical care teams rely on it and patient lives depend on it. One of the ways to ensure your devices are always ready is through proper lifecycle management.

The lifecycle of patient care equipment spans years and requires major annual investments in budget and staff. Each year, clinical engineering teams must justify maintenance and repair costs as part of their medical equipment lifecycle management budget. Including these five essentials in your patient care equipment budget can help extract longevity from these devices, make your investment go further in the long term, and deliver peace of mind in the moments that matter most for patient care.

1. Planned maintenance

Maintenance is no small part of every healthcare facility's medical device budget. The medical equipment maintenance market was estimated at $46 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 65 billion by 2030.1 The size of these investments means that maintenance and equipment plans are essential in both day-to-day operations and preparation for future health crises. Reactive maintenance involves running a device until it fails, and then reacting—sometimes under pressure—to fix it. An approach that neglects routine maintenance in favor of reactive measures turns every broken piece of equipment into an urgent situation. At best, it leads to unplanned downtime for service, and at worst, it leads to disposal and replacement of the equipment—or even patient safety concerns. Proactive or planned maintenance anticipates when an issue could occur and takes steps to keep a failure from happening. It's as natural to medical equipment lifecycle management as oil changes are to cars after every 3,000 miles. These purposeful actions can prolong the life of the equipment, keep it running well for longer, lower the stress and pressure around getting it fixed or replaced, and ultimately reduce delays or disruptions for your clinicians and their patients.

Healthcare facilities that use equipment from multiple vendors should factor this into their equipment lifecycle management strategy. To create a planned maintenance program, work with all of your vendors. Know the maintenance and service recommendations for each piece of patient care equipment you use. Follow vendor guidelines about the standard useful life for your devices, as this information can help you budget for replacement purchases and planned maintenance. Also, ensure staff uses all equipment and devices correctly and in line with operating instructions, as this can affect the longevity of the equipment.

2. Unplanned maintenance

Even with a planned maintenance program in place, the unexpected will still happen. Equipment will get dropped or unexpectedly damaged during use. Even regularly maintained equipment can malfunction. Because of staffing issues or other equipment service schedules, planned maintenance may get delayed, leading to an unexpected breakdown. The challenge comes in knowing how to respond when these unexpected events occur. One strategy is to have a plan in place before these events occur. Know who on your team can be assigned to these events and ensure you have sufficient staff available to respond. Another strategy is to have a team member who can triage events and decide which of the day's maintenance activities should be prioritized. Finally, a preventive measure is to ensure equipment users know how to properly care for equipment to eliminate issues like user error and careless handling of equipment that lead to unexpected equipment failures. This can be achieved through ongoing training for all device users.

Every facility has its own approach to equipment maintenance and service. Some have on-site maintenance teams. However, a 2022 survey found that 55% of healthcare tech workers described their workload as "heavy" or "excessive."2 With that perception so common, some facilities find it beneficial to fully outsource equipment servicing. Either approach can use technical support resources in a way that's customized to how your facility operates. Turning to these resources both to support ongoing maintenance and during an equipment failure can help reduce patient care equipment disruption and downtime.

Look for a service plan that can be tiered and customized to match your facility's needs. When unanticipated equipment and technical breakdowns happen, a customized service plan provides peace of mind, since you know that you have exactly what you need to take care of any problem. Including a service plan in your annual budget means your team can rest assured experienced specialists are on the case.

3. Cybersecurity and risk mitigation

The average cost of cyberattacks for healthcare organizations per year is $10.1 million.3 That cost is too large to overlook and illustrates the importance of robust cybersecurity strategies. The monetary damage is only one side of the equation. Cybersecurity attacks can also increase patient risk by disabling medical equipment or patient records.

Your hospital has likely already established mitigation measures in the annual budget. But in the age of constant connectivity, it's important to consider that there is no set-it-and-forget-it plan for patient care equipment cybersecurity. As part of their cybersecurity strategy, hospitals need resources set aside to train staff to recognize and prevent cybersecurity risks. Medical device teams also need training on the importance of keeping software patched and updated to close known vulnerabilities.

How you manage cybersecurity depends on your on-site staffing and experience levels. Many healthcare organizations lack the internal resources to adequately address cybersecurity issues so they often look for outside services to help.

Equipment manufacturers often aid with software updates and patch management to prevent known vulnerabilities. Look for manufacturers who provide credentialed customers access to security updates, the status and required action for assets potentially impacted by critical vulnerabilities, and a view of historical patch products with released non-critical patches.

4. OEM parts and clinical accessories

Hospitals house a complex web of devices. It can be tempting to shave dollars off your budget by buying discount parts from non-OEM vendors. But shaving short-term dollars can be a short-sighted approach to maintenance. It's important to recognize that generic and OEM medical devices and parts are not interchangeable.

It can be easier and faster to get needed parts from OEMs who manage their own supply chains and distribution methods. Additionally, no one understands the equipment better than those who design, create, and manufacture it. It brings peace of mind to know the original manufacturing vendors are delivering approved standard parts that arrive quickly.

OEMs know their reputation is on the line, so they may take more care than other vendors. They practice the same quality rigorous quality testing on replacement parts as they do on the original device itself. Some vendors will send items in custom packaging to confirm they are shipped securely and offer next-day delivery to assure timely arrival. OEMs commit to providing parts and accessories for their devices as long as they remain on the market, a commitment that you cannot get from third-party, off-market vendors. OEMs also offer a customer care team you can speak to for help ensuring you order and receive the right part every time.

5. Training and education

When examining or reworking your budget, training may feel like an easy line item to reduce or cut altogether. But patient care equipment evolves quickly as hospitals look to keep equipment up-to-date and protect against cyber threats. Your team needs to keep pace with those changes to ensure you tap into the full capabilities of all your medical assets.

Training is critical, but it doesn't have to break your annual budget. First, check your vendors to see what free or low-cost training they offer for the products you use. Some offer online documentation portals with the most up-to-date version of product documentation. Others offer subscription-based online eLearning to provide just-in-time training to your team when and where it's needed. Finally, there are more comprehensive, in-person training options that allow for hands-on skills training, which can be invaluable to the team that manages and services your patient care equipment. A well-rounded annual budget likely includes some combination of online and in-person options.

Patient care is at the heart of what you do

Your healthcare facility depends on equipment that works and is ready to go. Your critical assets need to be available for care teams and the patients they serve. These essentials can help you shorten service activities, reduce downtime, and proactively identify security risks. Learn how ReadySee™ can play a part in helping you maximize patient care equipment lifecycle management.

Achieving your goals for optimal medical device management and maintenance makes it possible to confidently deliver on your mission as a healthcare facility. Creating and enacting a long-term vision for equipment management helps your caregivers focus on their greatest concern—delivering patient care.


1. Medical Equipment Maintenance Market. Precedence Research. https://www.precedenceresearch.com/medical-equipment-maintenance-market. Accessed July 31, 2023.

2. HTM Salary Survey 2022. 24x7. https://24x7mag.com/professional-development/department-management/salaries/htm-salary-survey-2022/. Accessed July 31, 2023.

3. Cost of a Data Breach 2022. IBM. https://www.ibm.com/reports/data-breach. Accessed May 10, 2023.