Editor's note: This article is the second part of a 14-week series titled "Reliability Asset Management: Getting Started." The series explores the use of reliability-centered maintenance in health care facilities. One article will be published every other week. 

Why change the way we have been performing maintenance and operations for generations in health care facility maintenance?

The reason I’m passionate about this change and the implementation of reliability asset management (RAM) is that it is a methodology that gives us a better measurement tool to understand if what we are doing is the best application of our time and resources to get the results and improvement we are expecting.

I’m going to start this article the same way I start just about all my presentations and usually most of my discussion when it comes to just about all the work we do and are responsible for.

We all want to be successful and obtain positive outcomes for our teams and organization, but many of us have multiple operational variables that make getting our results very challenging.

Many years ago, I came across this quote by business professional and author H. James Harrington: “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

Reliability asset management gives us a better measurement of the work we are doing to reduce risk, improve quality and most importantly reduce costs. I have found it gives us a validated path to improvement and more importantly a common language and understanding of how we can improve our measurements, build better understanding of what and why we are doing what we are doing, which will allow us to control and improve our outcomes.

I say a validated path because RAM has been around for many years in many other industries that have had those three expectations I listed above: high regulatory risk, an increased demand for higher quality and all at a more affordable price. Now is the time that we apply this methodology to health care.

The things that excite me about the application and methodologies of RAM start with our ability to improve the measurement of the work we do. Starting with our computerize maintenance management systems and documenting the types of work we do so that we can improve our understanding of the application and outcomes of the work we are doing.

Here’s a link to a podcast I did with Joshua and Lindsey Bracket on the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) website that explains this concept. When we are able to place the work we do in the correct categories, we can then measure and understand if our maintenance program is working? Are we getting the results we expected?

We all want to be successful in the work we do. The application of reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) has been a methodology that I have been very interested and working on for many years, however it wasn’t until about six years ago that I met two RCM pioneers Terrence O’Hanlon and Anthony “Mac” Smith that I realized that RCM is the foundational element of the bigger RAM methodology.

I must tell you that this is a game changer for health care. What is exciting about the application of reliability asset management is that its application covers everything we do for the entire life cycle of our assets. Just review the Uptime Elements developed by Terrence O’Hanlon and see how each of these elements has a key function to improving our performance in managing our assets.

Besides learning and understanding that RAM is the right application for health care, I’ve also learned from Mac Smith that the application of RCM is not just about conditioned-based monitoring. In applying RCM there are seven key steps in the proper application such that we identify how and when to apply the best maintenance methods to our systems to preserve their function, and better understand their failures and risks to our organization. I have to say, when my team went through this logical, documented risk-based process they became fully invested and engaged as this validated the work they would be doing and why.

What is most important now, which is the reason for this article, is this opportunity we all have through ASHE and the power of networking to bring RAM to health care. We can improve our measurement, build a stronger understanding, take control of our processes, and then improve our maintenance and operations so that we can provide reliable and safe environments for the members and staff of our organizations.

Now, this is not going to be easy. Health care is facing our most difficult and challenging times, but I do know that between the power of networking and the members of ASHE leaning in and working to implement this methodology, RAM can make a significant difference for generations to come.

Thank you for reading this article, I look forward to collaborating with you to improve health care facility performance overall.