Hospitals are having trouble getting service information to fix medical equipment—and it’s not just a COVID-19 problem. We’ve heard countless stories from biomedical technicians (biomeds, for short) about how medical device manufacturers make their jobs more difficult by restricting access to repair information.
Thanks to travel limitations, the problem is bigger than ever. Manufacturer service reps can’t keep pace with the growing demand for repair of critical hospital equipment. Even if they could, they can’t respond as quickly as the biomeds, already at the front lines. Unfortunately, biomeds spend innumerable hours scouring the internet, searching for crucial repair information they need to make a fix or perform preventative maintenance. This is not a good way to run a health system!
So we’re fixing it. For the last two months, iFixit has pivoted half of its staff toward building the world’s most comprehensive medical equipment service database. It’s a central, multi-manufacturer library of user manuals and repair documentation for thousands of devices. We just posted more than 13,000 manuals from hundreds of manufacturers, online and available for use immediately. You can find them in our Medical Device category.
This has been an absolutely massive undertaking—and we were fortunate to have the help and support of over 200 librarians and archivists from across the country. Archivists from university and public libraries, research institutes, insurance and software companies, and of course biomeds themselves—all donated their valuable time. Collectively, they’ve contributed thousands of hours organizing piles of documents into a navigable, searchable system.
Building a Crucial Resource
Some medical manufacturers, like Mindray, allow biomeds to access their manuals freely. A few more released select documents after the outbreak of COVID-19. But for their day-to-day work, biomeds have long relied on a rag-tag set of web resources to get the job done. Among the most popular is Frank’s Hospital Workshop, a Tanzania-based site that hosts hundreds of medical device manuals—it’s the unofficial biomed bible.
We know because we’ve spent the past two months talking to as many biomeds, nurses, and doctors as possible to understand how we can support their field repairs. We wanted to eliminate a single point of failure and make it even easier for anyone to find the right manual, especially in an emergency.
When we began crowdsourcing repair information for hospital equipment, we prioritized ventilator documentation, anesthesia systems, and respiratory analyzers—devices widely used to support COVID-19 patients. The list of products has grown exponentially as the documents from biomeds and community members poured in. Some of the documents in our collection were already available. Others were not publicly posted until now. It was important to us that this resource didn’t just duplicate existing resources, but improved accessibility in a meaningful way.
This Is Just the Beginning
We have built a single, robust, comprehensive treasure trove of repair information for thousands of medical devices. It’s a multi-manufacturer collection that will live on iFixit.com. To be very clear: iFixit does not make money on this project. We are providing hosting and curation free of charge, and free of advertising, to the medical community. We welcome manufacturers to join us and contribute toward an up-to-date central repository for the biomedical community.
We also welcome biomeds around the world to join iFixit’s repair community. No technician is an island, and we hope to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and troubleshooting. Our wiki organization system and collaborative Q&A forum will make sure that this information gets more useful over time. This medical repository is most useful if it is collaboratively moderated by biomeds, with our assistance.
As with all of the repair guides on iFixit.com, we welcome community contributions. If you have repair information that isn’t in our collection yet, please share it with us!
We’d like to offer our sincere thanks to these volunteers for their help with this project:
- Kim Ammons, Mount Holyoke College
- Jennifer L. Anderson, Texas A&M University Libraries
- Kitty Berner
- Maja Bystrom, Bevara Technologies
- Bill Chollett, Texas A&M University
- Arlene G. Cohen, University of Guam Library (retired)/Pacific Islands Library
- Matthew Connolly, Cornell University Library
- Jessica Goodman, Skokie Public Library
- Gay Gordon-Byrne, Repair Association
- Luming Hao, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University
- Elizabeth D. Headrick, Texas Women’s University
- Jackeline Herrera, UCLA
- Kim Hoffman, Miami University
- Amy Twigger Holroyd, Nottingham Trent University, UK
- Leslie Bass LaCount
- Susana Leyva, Palos Heights Public Library
- Linda Ling, Joliet Public Library
- Luis López
- Casey McNamara
- Erin McElrath, LinkedIn
- Emmabeth Nanol, Getty Research Institute
- Margaret Nunez
- Amy Nykamp
- Allyson Ota, Kapiʻolani Community College
- Amanda Pape, Tarleton State University Librarian (retired)
- Cynthia Prosser, University of Georgia Libraries
- Jessica L. Serrao, Clemson University Libraries
- Rachel Shaevel, Chicago Public Library
- Karen Sigler, Texas State University
- Angela Thor, Thor Literature Searching and Information Services
- Cecilia Tsai
- Jullian James Valadez
- Sue Visser