LUMC monitors medical equipment in real time: ‘We can prevent a lot of misery’

28 July 2022• NEWS RELEASE

A device that fails during a complex operation is not desirable. Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) has therefore started real-time monitoring of medical equipment via Paessler PRTG. Willem Bouwman, developer in the IT&DI department, is involved in the monitoring system. “We can detect some of the problems much faster,” he says.

Strict rules and guidelines are attached to the use of medical equipment. For example, the operation may only be carried out by certified personnel, regular checks and maintenance work are carried out at fixed times by certified personnel. However, this cannot always prevent a device from failing. Good monitoring can help to provide insight into this and to act in a timely manner,” explains Bouwman.

LUMC started using Paessler PRTG last year. Currently, 1,876 servers are monitored, including several dozen medical devices. It is not yet (by far) all medical equipment in LUMC, but the first step has been taken. Different environments have been created for patient care and non-care related parts of the hospital. In the coming years, IT&DI wants to further expand the system and monitor more equipment and related processes. The condition is that this equipment is connected to the ICT network. This would make LUMC the first hospital in the Netherlands to be able to monitor (medical) equipment on a large scale in real time. Good cooperation with Medical Technology, the department responsible for the maintenance of medical equipment, is essential.

Good communication with equipment

Thanks to a link to the hospital information system HiX, the status of a device, server or service can be viewed live via Paessler PRTG. If something goes wrong, the system issues an alarm. A message is then automatically sent to the user’s owner so they can take action. However, Bouwman and his colleagues have designed the system in such a way that situations like this are to be prevented as much as possible. His secret? “You have to communicate well with the equipment,” he says with a laugh.

By good communication, the IT developer means how you set up the monitoring process. You need to know what information you want to read. “It is also the first thing we discuss with the departments involved,” he says. To show exactly how the surveillance works, Bouwman opens his laptop and shows the dashboard. In a few seconds, he opens an overview with many tables, graphs and green icons. Furthermore, only technical data can be viewed, patient data is not available via the system.

See in real time

A few mouse clicks further on, we are in the overview with all medical equipment in the Radiation Therapy Department. Bouwman points to the screen. “We not only monitor whether everything works, but also whether the equipment works correctly. For example, we can see how long a device has been on and how it has been performing recently. If there is a problem, we can easily find out if it is a one-off or if it has been going on for a long time.”

For lifetime and performance, IT&DI has set specific limits for each connected device. Users are notified via PRTG if a device runs slowly or gets very hot. “We use color codes. With green, everything is working correctly, with orange, the device is approaching the limit values, and with red, there is a defect. By acting in a timely manner in the event of an orange notification, we can prevent a lot of misery.”

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