September 8, 2021

RCM: A modern Rx for maintenance

Traditionally, most hospitals have maintained their equipment per manufacturer recommendations or some form of preventive or scheduled maintenance based on regulatory or equipment need. Problem is, these approaches do not address a system’s need to be managed for minimum failure as opposed to the failure of a system’s components.

The solution? Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), an organizational-level strategy that can enhance the maintenance program in a facility by following four key principles: (1) preserve system function; (2) identify failure modes that can impact system function; (3) prioritize the failure modes; and (4) choose suitable and effective tasks to control the failure modes.

RCM as a concept started snowballing in 1960, when the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry studied why conventional maintenance approaches were inadequate for contemporary aircraft. They determined that many equipment failures could not be prevented or reduced by simply abiding by the “right age” principle, which espoused that every piece of complex equipment has an ideal time at which complete overhaul is needed to ensure reliability and safety. Before long, RCM principles and best practices—which called for balancing resources used with the inherent reliability expected of a given piece of equipment—were put into practice by the military and health care industry.

Learn more about RCM and its effectiveness in health care settings by reading my latest article for Health Facilities Management, available here