In early February, members of the two teams that make up SpecialtyCare’s biomedical department convened at the Airpark Technical Center in Nashville for a week of meetings and interaction, examining procedures and protocols, and working together on the maintenance of complex medical equipment.
It was part of a planned series of biannual get-togethers that foster the team concept, allowing SpecialtyCare’s four IONM techs and eight perfusion techs to develop relationships, not just with one another but with members from other SpecialtyCare departments, like the finance team, who came over for lunch on one of the days.
“Everything that we touch and maintain, the finance team is responsible for paying,” said Andrew Goldstein, Manager, Biomedical Engineering at SpecialtyCare. “We brought them in so that everyone could put faces to names. That way, they’re more than just an email address or a voice on the phone.”
WHAT IS A BIOMED TECH?
While the atmosphere at Airpark might on any given day resemble that of a racecar garage or college robotics lab, the biomedical technicians of SpecialtyCare consider themselves vital members of any healthcare delivery team.
And rightfully so. Drawing from years of expertise to ensure the safety, efficacy, and availability of life-saving healthcare technology, these technicians work with surgeons, clinicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to ensure high standards of functionality for these highly complex pieces of medical equipment.
SpecialtyCare’s perfusion techs are responsible for the upkeep of cardiopulmonary bypass machines, also known as heart-lung machines, while the intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) techs are responsible for the technology that anesthesiologists and surgeons rely on to monitor the brain and nervous system during surgeries.
As biomed techs, the duties of both the perfusion and IONM teams include:
– Providing the equipment planning, purchasing, installation, and on-call technical support
– Training clinical staff on the safe and effective use of the equipment
– Ongoing maintenance of the equipment
– Disaster preparedness
As one might guess, the education and training of a SpecialtyCare tech is rigorous. The most common route, Goldstein says, starts with an associate degree in biomedical equipment. Next comes specialized training on each piece of equipment. It’s an ongoing process, as medical technology constantly advances and develops.
“As we get new pieces, we train everybody on them so that they’re continually improving their skills,” Goldstein said. “There’s an ongoing sense of urgency in what we address, especially as we have many thousands of pieces of equipment between the IONM and Perfusion service lines.”
DOING WHAT’S NECESSARY
While the kind of service that SpecialtyCare’s technicians provide is invaluable to patients, Goldstein’s team of biomed techs also presents a winning prospect for SpecialtyCare’s clients. Without this service, healthcare providers would have to outsource their equipment’s purchasing, training, and maintenance in a more piecemeal fashion, or else expand their own biomedical engineering departments, if not build them from scratch. When it comes to cases involving high-demand equipment, Goldstein’s team has to be quick, efficient, and willing to work odd hours on occasion.
“Most of the IONM-related equipment is smaller and portable, so we can receive it here at Airpark,” Goldstein said, “but with, say, a heart-lung machine that’s often in use, our technicians will go to the clinic late at night or on a weekend to make their inspections. Sometimes we get calls with immediate needs, but the team is well-equipped for such challenges. We do what’s necessary.”
Excellence and Integrity
With a degree in Biomedical Engineering and certifications in intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring and computer networking, Andrew Goldstein, BS, CNIM, has been involved, in one aspect or another, in intraoperative neurophysiology for nearly 30 years. His experience has touched in practically all aspects of the field, from R&D to application and clinical testing, research writing to staff training, and even sales and marketing.
These days, as Manager of Biomedical Engineering at SpecialtyCare, Goldstein has taken the lead in applying networking technology to the field and implementing solutions for providing remote monitoring of surgical cases.
“We may operate in the background, but we understand that everything we do affects patients, which affects SpecialtyCare,” Goldstein said. “We keep the focus on excellence and integrity, with the patient always in mind.”