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A new service from Binovia Corp, Omaha, NE, offers technicians the ability to cross-train in either biomedical engineering or information technology. bITomed technicians ensure that medical information is properly transmitted from devices including imaging equipment to PACS systems, medical records, referring physicians, and billing—and do it with twice the efficacy of a technician trained in only one of the two fields.
“Fifteen years ago, I was working in a hospital as a biomedical engineering director,” said Jesse Fisher, CEO of Binovia. “As time went on, we were seeing more and more computer-based equipment, and by the end of the nineties, there were all these garage companies creating their own PACS networks. They had one programmer to do the installations and the trouble-shooting, and they’d sell their PACS everywhere and then wind up going out of business because they couldn’t handle it.
Companies just couldn’t handle the entire spectrum. We saw a huge gap for customers in the area of service.”
By cross-training technicians in both IT and biomed, Binovia produces personnel capable of troubleshooting a problem from its point of origin. This enables PACS customers to extend the life of their product, even if the company that created it goes under. “We’ve had customers who were looking at getting a new PACS, and after Binovia came in and assessed the situation, we were able to keep that PACS network running with the knowledge we have,” Fisher said.
The process begins with interviewing technicians. Fisher looks for IT techs with a strong interest in health care, and biomed techs with a strong interest in IT. “These technicians already had 5 to 10 years of experience in either IT or biomed, and we’re having them work side by side and pushing them into the hospital realm,” said Fisher. “We do weekly conference calls where there’s special training for both groups.”
Fisher says cross-trained technicians will become increasingly vital as technology continues to tighten its hold on modern health care. “As hospitals move closer and closer to wide-area networking, you’ve got to have someone who isn’t just going to sit with his hands in his pockets,” said Fisher.
“If our technicians see a brick wall, they’ll either go through it or over it. If they can’t fix It, they’re pointing at the problem so we can find someone who can.” And Suzanne Titus, Binovia’s director of business development, emphasizes that cross-trained techs save valuable time and money. “Gaps in service take time and money and detract from patient care,” she said. “Helping someone extend the life of their PACS is a huge cost-saver.”
Fisher stresses that Binovia’s technicians work with, not against, a hospital’s in-house IT department. “This is a new concept, but it’s something that we’ve seen a definite need for,” he said. “We’re not competition with an IT department. We’re supplemental as well as primary. We know how systems interrelate, so hospitals wind up working with one generally knowledgeable person instead of going throughthree or four meetings with several people.”