Technology and the future of medical equipment maintenance

Health Estate. 1999 May;53(4):12, 14, 18-9.


Maintenance of medical equipment has been changing rapidly in the past few years. It is changing more rapidly in developed countries, but changes are also occurring in developing countries. Some of the changes may permit improved maintenance on the higher technology equipment in developing countries, since they do not require onsite expertise. Technology has had an increasing impact on the development of medical equipment with the increased use of microprocessors and computers. With miniaturization from space technology and electronic chip design, powerful microprocessors and computers have been built into medical equipment. The improvement in manufacturing technology has increased the quality of parts and therefore the medical equipment. This has resulted in increased mean time between failures and reduced maintenance needs. This has made equipment more reliable in remote areas and developing countries. The built-in computers and advances in software design have brought about self-diagnostics in medical equipment. The technicians now have a strong tool to be used in maintenance. One problem in this area is getting access to the self-diagnostics. Some manufacturers will not readily provide this access to the owner of the equipment. Advances in telecommunications in conjunction with self-diagnostics make available remote diagnosis and repair. Since components can no longer be repaired, a remote repair technician can instruct an operator or an on-site repairman on board replacement. In case of software problems, the remote repair technician may perform the repairs over the telephone. It is possible for the equipment to be monitored remotely by modern without interfering with the operation of the equipment. These changes in technology require the training of biomedical engineering technicians (BMETs) to change. They must have training in computers and telecommunications. Some of this training can be done with telecommunications and computers.

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Maintenance and Engineering, Hospital / trends*
  • Medical Laboratory Science / instrumentation*
  • Medical Laboratory Science / standards
  • Outsourced Services
  • Program Development
  • Remote Consultation / instrumentation
  • Software
  • Telecommunications
  • United States