AAMI and ASHE put heads together over CMS preventive-maintenance directive

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The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) are combining forces to coordinate a response to the December directive from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the preventive maintenance of medical devices.

The organizations said in an AAMI news release that they will “bring stakeholders together to facilitate development of an evidence-based response” to the directive and work with George Mills, director of engineering at the Joint Commission, to request a meeting with CMS officials.

The new CMS directive puts Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement on the line as it calls for strict adherence to manufacturers’ recommendations for routine preventive maintenance (PM) on many categories of medical equipment. It allows for exceptions on devices deemed “non-critical,” for example, only after hospitals present documentation outlining maintenance assessments and showing that requested exceptions will not compromise safety.

The collaboration comes on the heels of a Feb. 15 webinar organized by the ECRI Institute for healthcare technology managers. During the session, presenters compared the CMS directive unfavorably with the Joint Commission’s more flexible, evidence-based protocol for equipment inspection and maintenance. Attendees voiced strong accord with that opinion in flash polling.

The consensus throughout the session was that, in contrast with blind “PM-ing” of all medical devices, evidence-based maintenance—which prioritizes devices according to risk and criticality—improves efficiency, increases time for more pressing technology-management activities and saves hospitals money without compromising patient safety, quality of care or performance of equipment.

Mary Logan, AAMI’s president, said in a statement that the AAMI-ASHE collaboration may help convince the CMS to consider alternatives to its December directive. “Although difficult to swallow, what the CMS is doing is consistent with what is happening throughout healthcare,” she said. “In short, the CMS is looking for a standard.”

The CMS has posted a downloadable PDF of the memo presenting the directive.