Modern field service teams are expected to do much more than simple service tasks. The job now involves utilizing IoT, mobile and social platforms, and even augmented reality devices.
Field service techs for medical device companies also need to go above and beyond by adhering to industry regulations. Employing new technologies can help these companies meet and exceed both their customer’s and the FDA’s requirements.
In a recent webinar, Bryan Coddington, vice president of cloud technology at professional services firm USDM Life Sciences, discussed how moving to the cloud can benefit medical device companies. We spoke with Coddington to learn more about what medical device companies should know when implementing a field service application, advantages to upgrading systems, and how he sees field service evolving.
How can medical device companies successfully make the move to the cloud?
Bryan Coddington: With the flexibility and fast changing nature of cloud, it’s important for medical device companies to understand regulations and have a plan for maintaining long-term compliance. With the cloud, the upgrades, changes and new versions are often handled by the provider and out of the customer’s hands. This is great in a lot of ways in that it saves time and money but it can make compliance more challenging.
When choosing a provider, be sure to review and understand their SLA. Know what they are and what they are not responsible for delivering in regards to uptime, security, and data retention. Ask the provider if their processes have been audited and, if so, by whom? Ensure they have industry certifications around computer and information systems, and be sure to confirm their experience in the med device industry before moving signing a contract.
What advantages do companies gain from moving to the cloud?
Two of the main advantages are lower cost of infrastructure — since you don’t have to maintain your own hardware or software — and the most feature-rich applications for your users. Since you only pay for what you need, you get enterprise-ready applications right from the start that can grow as you grow. The cloud opens up so many opportunities for collaboration, not just with field service, but also with quality systems, product lifecycle management and customer relationship management.
The cloud opens up so many opportunities for collaboration.
Cloud applications are also inherently mobile-friendly which means they work on mobile platforms out of the box and are simple to deploy to a mobile workforce. Overall, it makes so much sense for medical device companies to start using the cloud.
What tips do you have for adopting new technologies without running afoul of regulations?
It’s important for companies to know what’s required around testing and documentation for all field service processes. The important regulations to be aware of are 21 CFR Part 11, 803, and 820, which have to do with e-signature, electronic records, quality, and reporting. What’s amazing today is that field service and quality management systems (QMS) can run on the same cloud platform, giving everyone a 360-degree view from the initial service request to the corrective action for any adverse events.
What other emerging technologies will medical device service leaders utilize in the future?
IoT is a big one for field service. Smart devices can provide real-time diagnostic data that is sent directly to a cloud application, and that can lead to predictive maintenance rather than waiting for a customer to call and say a device isn’t working.
Augmented reality is another tool that will be more widely used in the near future. AR goggles can allow techs to fix and interact with devices virtually so they can access hard-to-reach parts of a machine. Because these new technologies and platforms can be validated, medical device companies will begin adopting them faster than ever.
Click here to view the full webinar.