por Christina Hwang
, Contributing Reporter | May 22, 2016
From the May 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Whether you call them health care technology management professionals, clinical engineers or biomeds, the people responsible for keeping medical equipment up and running at a hospital are up against a tall task.
Changing legislation, challenges with accessing OEM equipment’s diagnostic tools and software keys and the rapid expansion of health IT are just a few of the factors that keep these important members of the hospital team on their toes. HealthCare Business News spoke to several people on the front lines of health care technology management to find out more about the forces impacting them.
As hospitals become more integrated, it’s not always clear who is responsible for what device. Heidi Horn, vice president of clinical engineering service at SSM Health in St. Louis, recalls a scenario involving a medical device that had both PC and different workstations as part of the system. At first, Horn reported, it wasn’t clear who should be responsible for the workstations. But ultimately the HTM and IT departments agreed that since the workstations were connected to the device, the management should be handled by the HTMs.
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“What we have to understand is that it is not going to be ‘this is mine and this is IT,’” she said. “The blurring of lines will continue and we have to be nimble enough, and make sure our skill sets are there, so we can cross those boundaries more and more,” Horn added. For Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the HTM department now has service models for application support, which create unique opportunities to support technology, not only from a hardware standpoint, but also from a middleware and software standpoint, all under the clinical engineering umbrella.
Curt Rodriguez, clinical engineering and device integration at Cedars-Sinai, believes that’s never been done before anywhere in the country. “For our newer nurse call system, clinical engineering supports not only the hardware involved like the staff terminals, nurses stations and pillow speakers, but we also support the application. We assign new users so that nurses can get the alarms sent to their phone, and resolve issues with end users utilizing tools within the application,” he said.
Evolution in health care
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently implemented requirements for inspection and preventive maintenance of equipment, and who can repair and remanufacture equipment. “An HTM professional should not only know how to maintain equipment, but also what the decisions on maintenance mean to the finance and operations departments of the health system they work at. You have to break out of your shell of ‘just repair’ to look at the bigger picture,” said Rob Maliff, director, Applied Solutions Group at ECRI Institute in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.