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Dave Hartley | 7 December, 2023

How AI Makes Hospital Field Service Techs More Efficient

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has swept the country, increasingly being applied to a wide range of hospital technologies and applications. Among the benefits of AI in healthcare are providing a deeper knowledge base, faster access to key information, and achieving greater efficiency.

Simply described, AI is a field that combines computer science and robust datasets to enable the process of problem-solving. It also involves sub-fields of machine learning along with deep learning. The AI algorithms seek to create expert systems that can make predictions or create classifications based on input data (IBM, 2023).

AI Is Helping Hospital Service Technicians Work Smarter and Faster

While much of AI has yet to be deployed, one area where it is making a dramatic impact is in hospital field service. Whether it involves installing a new piece of technology, such as an HVAC or pneumatic tube system, or trouble shooting an existing issue, AI in field service is helping technicians to work smarter and faster. It is instrumental in helping to reduce downtime and keep hospital systems up and running.

Dave Hartley, VP of operations for Translogic, has personally observed the benefits of using AI in field service. Having deployed the Neuron 7 AI-Generated Resolution Intelligence platform for the Translogic service technician team, there have been significant improvements experienced by the team and by the hospitals they serve. The team consists of over 100 field service technicians, servicing 2,500 hospitals nationwide. While there are advantages on many levels Dave points to the efficiency gained by younger technicians who no longer have to make calls to more experienced techs to solve issues.

There Is No Longer an Excuse for Outdated Service Technology

Prior to the use of AI hospital field service technicians used more traditional methods to solve issues, including the following:

  • Consult a manual. Typically written by technical writers, these manuals can be hundreds of pages in length and organized in a way that is not intuitive to hospital field service technicians. They won’t include any nuances that come from knowledge acquired on the job. The time taken to plow through a manual further stalls the servicing of the hospital.
  • Refer to handwritten notes. Often jotted down after a service call, these notes are often kept on a clipboard or entered into an iPad. They take time to access and often are not a perfect match to solve the issue at hand. More time taken up without solving the issue.
  • Access a standard trouble ticket database. These typically contain a limited amount of information with little to no detail on how to fix the issue. The information lives in siloes lacking any sort of integration. Like a needle in a haystack, the hospital field service technician had to locate the right fix among hundreds of other fixes. That takes time and effort that could have been used correcting the problem.
  • Call a more experienced technician. After taking up valuable time to try to find an answer, the only option would be to phone a more senior technician and wait until they were free to respond. This could take hours or longer. And what happens when the seasoned technicians retire? The information walks out the door with them.
translogic tu
TransLogic Transfer Unit

How Do Delays Due to Outdated Service Technology Impact the Hospital?

  • Major downtime as they wait to get the issue corrected. This can be hours, days or weeks depending on the availability of information needed to solve the problem.
  • Negative impact on hospital workflow. This means more manual work and reduced staff efficiency.
  • Loss of money. Staff workarounds are costly, especially when more people need to be hired to compensate for the lack of automation.
  • Frustration among employees. Now they are out of their routine, often spending less time with patients and more time performing tasks manually while the automated systems are down.
  • Compromised patient care. When systems go down processes are interrupted and the quality of care can be negatively impacted.

AI Equipped Service Techs Bring Faster, Better Service Results for Hospitals

One of the greatest benefits of AI in hospitals is the ability to build actionable information out of notes that are entered into a database. AI integrates and organizes the data in a way that builds upon the entered content of each service call. It is this knowledge-building capability of AI that is turning databases into repositories of easily accessed, valuable information. This turns even the most inexperienced technician into a pro, regardless of time spent on the job.

Technicians Can Solve Pneumatic Tube System Issues Faster and More Efficiently

While AI is clearly a major benefit for the service technicians using it, even more important are the benefits to the hospitals they serve. Here are some of the benefits of AI enabled field service technicians noted by users of pneumatic tube systems:

  • More accurate identification of issues related to a system failure. In the past a technician unable to pinpoint the exact cause of a system issue might resort to replacing an entire part. That could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars when intelligence may have revealed a more economical and accurate fix to the situation.
  • Expert troubleshooting by younger technicians. Everyone has dealt with the repercussions when a young, inexperienced technician struggles to fix an issue. For example, a pneumatic tube system issue that requires a second visit by a more experienced technician means a system that is down for hours or even days. When AI is added even a new hospital field service technician can quickly get the benefits of years of experience of the most seasoned veteran. In seconds, not hours.
  • Faster resolutions. These hospital tube systems are critical to efficiently meeting patients’ needs. A down system means valuable employees must now walk sensitive materials and specimens to their destinations, often across the campus. That takes time out of patient facing activities.

Are the Technicians Servicing Your Systems Using AI?

It is a question worth asking. Because everything from saving time, money, and providing continued service to patients can be positively impacted when your hospital field service technicians have the level of intelligence at their fingertips that AI provides.

They’ll serve your needs faster and more efficiently and they’ll add more value to each service visit. That is why our Translogic hospital field service technicians use AI. Yours should too.

As Dave explains, “It’s all related. If we can fix a tube issue quickly, that saves a nurse’s time walking down the hall with materials that can now be transported through the pneumatic tube system. It saves the technician’s time, the nurse’s time and all that equates to better patient care,” he says. “AI puts the ‘service’ back in customer service.”