by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 30, 2013
From the May 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
[Biomeds] really need to understand wireless. When you look at the IT world, more and more things are being pushed to the wireless environment. And there are a lot of challenges in the wireless environment. We need to be up to speed about how that’s evolving. We tend to sometimes say, “It’s wireless, now we can connect.” We can, but should we? Do we really understand what else is hanging off that wireless network? And if the network goes down, what’s our backup plan? Do we have a downtime procedure?
Because of meaningful use, because of interoperability, because of multiple EHRs, because of multiple middleware companies, because of IEC 8001, all these different network parameters and standards and workflows, you have to be able to speak the same language as your network administrators. Without it, you risk having IT take a component of your medical equipment inventory related to networks, because the users will demand network interoperability with those devices. If you’re going to have ownership of the total lifecycle of the equipment, you have to know how it’s connected to the network.
One thing I always look for as a hiring manager is customer service and familiarity with dealing with clinical staff. You are the frontline liaison between caregivers. So if you’re going to be a biomed tech, you have to know what a lap coil is, you have to be familiar with sterile processing standards and sterile technique in an OR. You have to know a little bit about your work environment as it relates to the caregivers and your customers. But it’s difficult to do.
Patrick Lynch, president of Healthcare Technology Management Association of South Carolina:
HTM staff need to become much more knowledgeable about not only the big picture concerning the digital hospital of the future, but the detailed working and interactions that relate to medical devices. For the overview, I recommend the training program developed by the ONC to train experienced health care workers to be a part of the implementation of the digital hospital. I also see that every BMET and engineer needs A+ certification. Some will need Network+. But these skills will be lost if they are not used in one’s daily job. It seems to work better if the necessary IT skills and knowledge can be incorporated into the basic training for specific medical equipment. For example, when teaching ultrasound, all aspects of reporting and image transfer should be discussed. This includes configuration, image export and PACS interconnection.
Fred McMurtrie, president of Florida Biomedical Society:
I conditionally agree with Pat’s statement. However, I don’t believe that every biomed needs to become a certified network engineer. What we should have and what I think Pat is getting at are the basic understanding of how IT works and a rudimentary vocabulary of HIT terms. This will allow us to converse intelligently with our health care information technology team. However in the broader sense, biomeds need to have a basic understanding of all the technologies. I have been working in this profession for almost 30 years, and I can tell you that change is inevitable. You will never learn all you need to know without self study and dedication to continuing education.
DMBN: As some of you have mentioned, CE and IT departments are required to collaborate more and more — up to the point where, in the words of Ray Shingler of Spartanburg Regional, cited in an Aramark advertorial, “the gap between biomed support and technology support” has narrowed. Similarly, a recent ECRI Institute “informal poll” found about one-third of CE departments report directly to the CIO or IT department head. What are the main challenges in getting CE and IT departments working together, and how can hospital leadership make sure this integration goes smoothly?