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GE to roll out remote equipment training at RSNA

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | November 23, 2016
Medical Devices MRI
GE's Virtual Onsite Trainer
As health care increasingly turns toward telemedicine as a cost-⁠saving way to conduct exams, GE Healthcare is tapping into the same principles as a way to improve the education and training of hospital technologists.

Radiology imaging equipment can be complicated to use, so technologists often receive training when their facility purchases a new system — but what about questions that arise after those trainers have left the facility?

To help meet that need, GE is launching its Virtual Onsite Trainer at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago next week. It's an interactive mobile telepresence device that connects the technologists with a live, remotely-based training expert.

Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center recently purchased a new 3T MR scanner from GE and has been using the Virtual Onsite Trainer for about two months as part of a pilot program.

“It was nice because not everybody has the opportunity to have physical applications training," Tacy Bowers, MR technologist at Virginia Mason, told HCB News. "Since we have other magnets, we couldn’t just shut down the whole department and have everyone do training.”

The training experts may live in another state and be engaged in other training commitments, so technologists may have to wait a number of days for them to physically return to their facility. With this new device, they have access to the trainers within 24 hours at their convenience.

“It helps speed up the training process so that the patients are better taken care of," said Bowers. "The learning curve with Virtual Onsite Trainer is steeper, so we can get the knowledge faster. That way the patient isn’t on the table as long while we’re trying to figure out how to do something.”

The device is about 4.5 feet tall on wheels and is equipped with a video monitor screen and camera. The experts can zoom in to see the technologists' computer console and they can also use a laser to point to what they are trying to show them.

There is a list of different educational training sessions that the technologists can choose from, and each session lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. Virginia Mason has started to perform a couple of new exams like MR elastography, so they have requested a program for that.

For all the benefits it brings, Virtual Onsite Trainer is not meant to replace initial onsite training. It helps to support the learning continuum and resolves needs that tend to occur within the first 90 days of equipment usage, according to GE.

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