Award-winning biomeds lauded as firsts; Konica and Minolta set timetable for proposed merger; ACCE task force to support IHE initiative

Award-winning Biomeds Lauded as ‘Firsts’
GREG DUNCAN WINS CMIA PROFESSIONAL AWARD

 Greg Duncan recently became the first winner of the California Medical Instrumentation Association (CMIA) Professional of the Year award.

Duncan, chief biomedical engineer at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, Calif., received a plaque and a $1,000 check from the award’s sponsor, Welch Allyn Inc. (Beaverton, Ore.). His win was based on an impressive track record of professional achievements, community involvement and contributions to the biomedical community beginning in 1986, with his graduation with honors from the U.S. Army Biomedical Equipment Repair Specialist School at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo.

Duncan became a CBET in 1990 and was a biomedical equipment repair specialist in the 6253rd U.S. Army Reserves. He served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal and National Defense Ribbon.

According to his nomination papers, Duncan has implemented policy and procedure changes at Children’s Hospital and Research Center that have improved operations, customer service and compliance with hospital and medical equipment regulatory agencies. He was instrumental in bringing in-house previously contracted and/or outsourced biomedical equipment services, thus helping to reduce equipment downtime, the papers note.

Duncan is a past president, Bay Area Chapter, CMIA; past State Board chairman, CMIA; and an active member of the State of California Local 39 Biomedical Engineering Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC). He participated in the 2000 American Association of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) conference as a panel speaker and as a member of the CMIA-AAMI conference sponsorship committee. He is currently attending Cal State Hayward, majoring in business administration.

INDIANA BIOMED NAMED ETA TECH OF THE YEAR

 Glen L. Wolfe, CBET, CET, recently was named Technician of the Year by the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA-I of Greencastle, Ind.).

Wolfe, a biomedical technician at LaGrange (Ill.) Memorial Hospital, part of the Adventist Healthcare System, is the first biomedical electronics technician to receive the ETA-I honor. He accepted his award in March at the 2003 National All Service Convention in Orlando, Fla., during ceremonies celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ETA-I. According to ETA-I, Wolfe’s co-workers at the hospital covered his travel expenses so that he was able to attend the conference and receive his award in person.

At the time of his nomination for the award, which was signed by a number of hospital managers, including the vice president of operations and the chief executive officer, Wolfe had been with LaGrange Memorial for less than two years and was the first biomedical technician in the Adventist system to be selected for Employee of the Month accolades. Among his various interests is his participation in the Midwest Biomedical Society and the Indiana Biomedical Society (IBS). For the IBS, he maintains a Web site, plans meetings and contributes to the newsletter.

Wolfe became a biomedical technician in 1992, upon graduation, with honors, from the U.S. Army’s Medical Equipment and Optic School. He holds an associate’s degree in biomedical technology from the University of Phoenix and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at biomedical electronics through Thomas Edison State College. He sits on the advisory board for the electronics department at Elgin (ll.) Community College, assisting the college with its efforts to start up a biomedical technician curriculum.

The ETA-I is a not-for-profit professional trade association representing technicians in all fields of electronics since its founding in 1978.


Konica and Minolta set timetable for proposed merger; konica minolta holdings to result

Konica Corp. (Tokyo) and Minolta Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) have signed a letter of intent to merge in August and complete the integration of the companies’ management, businesses and imaging products by October.

Konica Corp. is the parent company of Konica Medical Imaging (KMI of Wayne, N.J.), which offers NetStar image management systems, computed radiography (CR) systems, DryPro dry laser imagers, film processors, and medical imaging and laser films. Konica’s product lines also feature cameras, consumer imaging products, optical technologies and photosensitive materials.

Minolta specializes in office-based image information products, such as printers and other color output devices.

By August, the companies expect to form the new integrated entity Konica Minolta Holdings Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, with Konica as the major shareholder. In October, the operations of both companies will be integrated through business restructuring, forming a new corporate group. All business and subsidiaries would carry the name Konica Minolta.


ACCE TASK FORCE TO SUPPORT IHE INITIATIVE
The American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) recently joined the IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) initiative, a joint project of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA of Oak Brook, Ill.) and the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS of Chicago), now in its fourth year.

ACCE President Ray Zambuto said the organization decided now was a good time to get involved: The IHE initiative accomplished its initial goals and is looking beyond radiology to cardiology and other modalities. For its part, ACCE has assembled a task force, organized around the following four points:

  • To provide education to the hospital and technology management community on the purpose and goals of IHE;
  • to assist IHE in defining future integration problems;
  • to promote technical input from clinical engineers on IHE-related issues, using ACCE members as a knowledge source on the clinical environment and equipment; and
  • to assist with identifying and communicating with vendors of medical products on IHE issues and the importance of IHE.

Elliot Sloane of Villanova (Pa.) University and Ted Cohen of University of California Davis are serving as task force co-chairmen. Sloane is immediate past president of ACCE who remains a member of the organization’s board; Cohen is ACCE vice president for 2002-2003.

“It’s part of our mission to promote excellence in clinical engineering,” began Zambuto, “and this is an opportunity to participate in the process, whereby the promise of the information revolution can come to the point of benefiting the patient and benefiting all of healthcare in general. I think it has the greatest amount of promise for actually bringing all the information elements together on a common platform, with a common vocabulary, in a common language, that becomes device and vendor-independent.

“IHE is not intended to be a programmer’s tool but a tool of the clinical communities where it’s intended to look at how we work and to fit the flow of information into how we work,” he added.

Practice management issues are becoming more important, Zambuto explained. With physicians practicing outside of the hospital, for example, the traditional system – patients checking into hospitals and having all tests done within hospital walls – is no longer the healthcare model. And once outside the hospital, issues of security and privacy take on new dimensions.

“The engineer in me says, ‘Wow, this is great!’” he said. “But in the real world, it can be a nightmare. We can help. We can bring something to the table.”

An IHE presentation will be part of an ACCE symposium, “The Future of Clinical Engineering Technology that Enables Improved Patient Care,” slated for Saturday, June 14, at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) conference and expo in Long Beach, Calif. That presentation is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The IHE initiative promotes the coordinated use of established technical communications standards such as DICOM and HL-7 to address medical systems integration needs.


HIMSS Poll: Systems Integration a Top IT Priority
Systems integration in a multivendor environment is a top information technology (IT) priority for their clients now and over the next two years, according to results of the 14th annual Leadership Survey from the Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS of Chicago).

Rounding out the top four objectives are implementing technology to reduce medical errors and promote patient safety (46 percent); implementing privacy modifications to meet requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (41 percent); and upgrading security on IT systems to meet HIPAA requirements (39 percent).

With the exception of implementing privacy modifications to meet HIPAA requirements, this year’s priorities are the same as last year.

Looking ahead, respondents say the enterprise-wide clinical information sharing (52 percent), computer-based patient record (51 percent), clinical information systems (49 percent) and computer-based practitioner order entry (47 percent) will be the top priorities over the next two years.

Data security technologies and intranets continue to top the list of technologies considered most important. The 2003 survey shows data security technologies (49 percent), intranets (46 percent), extranets (42 percent), high-speed networks (41 percent), and Web-enabled business transactions (41 percent) as technologies considered most important right now.

Other survey results include:

* Difficulty in proving quantifiable benefits/return on investment was cited as the most significant barrier to successfully implementing information technology at client facilities by nearly one-quarter of respondents.

* A majority of respondents expect their organizations’ revenues to increase in the next 12 months due to outsourcing on the part of clients.

The poll was sponsored by Superior Consultant Co. Inc. (Southfield, Mich.).


 Call for Volunteers
Operation Smile is currently accepting applications from biomedical technicians who wish to volunteer for future medical missions around the world.

If you are interested in becoming an Operation Smile medical mission volunteer, please contact Christopher Dunn, medical credentialing coordinator, by phone at (757) 321-7645, or by e-mail at cdunn@operationsmile.org.


 SIEMENS’ SERVICE AWARDED ISO 9001:2000 REGISTRATION
The service organization of Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pa.) on March 31 achieved ISO 9001:2000 registration. Employees at service “headquarters” in Cary, N.C. (photo), and service engineers dispersed throughout the country worked together for 12 months to enable the Siemens service organization to attain the International Organization of Standardization registration under the newest set of standards.

“It is not common for organizations to have their service divisions registered, which requires meeting the 9001:2000 standards that has additional requirements compared to the previous standards,” Prashant Ranade, Siemens’ senior vice president of National Service, remarked in a phone interview. “Customer focus and results focus” are given stronger emphasis under these newest standards, he said.

The ISO 9001:2000 standard is now the only standard; it displaces standards ISO 9001:1994, ISO 9002:1994 and ISO 9003:1994. The demise of the old standards also does away with the 20-clause structure for quality management and quality assurance. ISO 9001:2000 consists of five sections which are more customer-oriented and specific about implementing systemic improvements throughout an organization.

Ranade reiterated what he had said in a prepared statement: that Siemens was motivated to tackle the extensive registration process in an effort to be more responsible to customers’ needs.

“This achievement reaffirms our commitment to providing the highest quality service to our customers. It is critical for healthcare facilities using Siemens Medical products to keep these systems up and running 24×7, and we must ensure our business practices will continue to support this rate of success.”

According to Ranade, small groups of employees from different locations participated in a “train-the trainer” program to learn about the ISO 9001:2000 registration process. In turn, those groups involved additional Siemens employees in a network of programs that included face-to-face training, distance learning, regular e-mails and company newsletters. Every employee was involved in the process, he said.

Those different locations – what Ranade called the service “nerve center” in Cary: the Uptime Service Center, Global Parts Network, Expert Local Service and Technical Training – were included in the registration. The service engineers, or “ambassadors,” as Ranade referred to them, who are located closer to customers throughout the country and work in concert with Cary, also received ISO 9001:2000 registration.

Achieving a mutual level of understanding throughout the company was the most fundamental improvement, Ranade said.

“Every process was documented, which made employees, particularly newly hired employees, a part of our team quicker than normal, in order to have a better understanding of how their work relates to taking care of customers and achieving Siemens’ business objectives,” he said.

Independent ISO 9001:2000 registrar TUV conducted the audit for Siemens.


d01e.jpg (10548 bytes)NTBA president Daniel Irving, CBET (left), presents the first Mike Long Memorial Scholarship award to Texas State Technical College student Rodney Downing.

NTBA Awards First Memorial Scholarship
The North Texas Biomedical Association at its February meeting presented the first Mike Long Memorial Scholarship to Rodney Downing, a student in medical imaging at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

The $250 scholarship, introduced to benefit the local biomed community, is awarded to students at Texas State Technical College who are enrolled in a biomed-related degree program full time. Recipients also must meet NTBA criteria as outlined by the association’s board members.

Downing’s academic achievements, extracurricular activities and an “outstanding” recommendation led to his being “well-qualified to receive the award,” according to the NTBA.

The NTBA intends to award scholarships twice a year, at the beginning of the spring and the fall semesters. NTBA officers are hoping to gather support for the scholarship from local vendors and hospitals in an effort to increase the amount of the award.

The scholarship was established to honor the memory of Mike Long, a BMET at Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas) and longtime NTBA officer and supporter, who passed away in April 2001. Long is credited with getting the NTBA “back on its feet” in 1989 and serving it with distinction since then until his death. The nonprofit NTBA organized in 1975.

Long picked up his electronics skills while in the U.S. Navy and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. His career in biomed began when he joined Physio-Control (Seattle, Wash.) as a field service engineer. He left Physio-Control for Parkland Memorial, where he worked for 16 years.


EU to Probe GE’s Buy of Instrumentarium
Speculation became fact in early April, as the European Union (EU) Commission launched a formal investigation into General Electric Co.’s (GE of Fairfield, Conn.) proposed $2 billion acquisition of Instrumentarium Corp. (Helsinki).

The EU’s probe, which could take as long as four months to complete, will focus on the market impact the combined company would have in breast screening equipment, mobile C-arms and anesthesia monitors. Regulators are concerned about the market implications of combining Instrumentarium’s anesthesia technology with GEMS’ patient monitoring systems.

GEMS or Instrumentarium could be mandated to sell some assets in the critical-care medical devices segment or else make other concessions for the EU to clear the acquisition.

In its decision, the commission said GE’s acquisition of Instrumentarium “could have the effect of foreclosing the market to other makers of patient monitors.”

GE filed its acquisition proposal with the commission on Feb. 20 to acquire the medical device company.

The EU commission can approve the transaction, require concessions – such as the sale of assets to minimize the competitive impact on a particular market – or reject the proposal completely.

This probe is the second EU review GE has encountered. Two years ago, the commission rejected GE’s proposed acquisition of Honeywell International Inc. (Morristown, N.J.) because of its ramifications in the European markets.

The U.S. Justice Department at the end of March requested additional information on the planned transaction.

GE has yet to offer or propose the divestiture of any businesses or technologies of its GE Medical Systems (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.) subsidiary. Instrumentarium would become part of GEMS.

With the U.S. and European investigations under way, GE is not expected to complete its acquisition of Instrumentarium until the third or fourth quarter. The EU probe could extend to early August before a decision is rendered.

The commission yesterday said it is “cooperating closely” with U.S. regulators.


VHA Renews Service Agreement with GE
VHA Inc. (Irving, Texas) has renewed its agreement with GE Medical Systems (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.) for clinical equipment maintenance services for VHA’s 2,200 healthcare organizations across the United States.

VHA awarded the three-year exclusive pact after evaluating proposals from more than 12 companies, according to K. Jeffrey Hayes, VHA senior vice president of business operations. The services will cover clinical maintenance services for most medical imaging and biomedical equipment, including mammography, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine and ultrasound. VHA member organizations also may participate in GEMS’ educational services and other programs as part of the agreement.

VHA estimated that the contract could save its member facilities a total of more than $42 million over the next three years.


KONICA INTRODUCES ‘KONICARE’
Konica Medical Imaging (KMI of Wayne, N.J.) in March announced the formation of a new “Konicare Technical and Professional Services” customer-support organization.

The “technical services” portion deals with KMI’s new approach to extended warranties available for its computed radiography and dry laser products. The “professional services” portion refers to the approximately 45 service professionals in the organization, including application specialists, project managers, technical support specialists and field representatives.

Konicare now offers three service levels — Gold, Silver and Bronze. Each calls for different increments of technical support, preventative maintenance, parts and other services.

The new program replaces KMI’s former approach to service, which “bundled” all Konica-provided support and services with every product purchase.

“Gold is similar to the extended warranty — it covers everything. Services such as parts, labor, travel, preventative maintenance and telephone support are all-inclusive,” Cliff Hults, manager of National Tech Support Services, explains. “Silver is a little less, where the hours are shortened, parts are limited to a dollar amount but negotiable, and preventative maintenance and technical support is included as well. Bronze is the basic: preventative maintenance, some repair and technical maintenance, but no parts.”

KMI officials said the decision to create a distinct and separate Konicare Technical and Professional Services organization was made about a year ago based, in part, on comments gathered in customer-satisfaction surveys.

“The services are important enough to KMI that we felt we needed to give this part of the organization its own identity,” Hults said.


TSI PUTS RMA ON THE WEB
TSI Inc. (Shoreview, Minn.) in April added an on-line return material authorization (RMA) system to its Web site.

The new automated system allows customers to arrange for verification, recalibration or repair of any TSI instrument by obtaining an RMA on-line.

Customers begin by logging on to www.tsi.com. and clicking on “RMA/Contact Information.” If they select the on-line version, they complete the forms and receive the RMA number necessary for service automatically. If they prefer, they can download a PDF of the RMA form, fill in the blanks and fax it to TSI at (651) 490-2874. When the completed information is received, customers are faxed their authorization numbers.

Users outside of North America will be referred to their local distributor for service.


 RPI PROMOTES WISNIEWSKI
Replacement Parks Industries Inc. (RPI of Chatsworth, Calif.) recently promoted Jim Wisniewski to manager of product development. In his new position, Wisniewski is responsible for overseeing configuration management and parts product development for medical, hospital, laboratory and dental equipment.

Wisniewski has been with RPI for seven years; most of that time he worked developing parts for dental equipment. He has several successful products to his credit, most notably RPI’s Field Service Smart Kit@ for servicing the SciCan Statim Cassette autoclave and a control block with removable set screws for easy access to the stem that fits the A-dec Century II delivery system.

Wisniewski has 25 years’ experience in the dental healthcare industry, including several years as an independent service technician with his own company.


FLUKE ADDS NEW FEATURES TO SP02 ANALYZER
Fluke Biomedical Corp. (Carson City, Nev.) introduces a new firmware release for its Index-2 Sp02 analyzer. The firmware, which provides new testing capabilities, comes standard in all new instruments and is available as an upgrade to existing instruments.

The new release offers the following features:

Transmission Level Control (TLC): With TLC, pulse oximeters and probe performance are tested over a wide range of simulated finger thicknesses. It also allows for a base line to be established that will detect minute degradations in performance prior to the development of major problems.   

Three new R-curves for Philips Medical Systems (formerly Agilent/Hewlett-Packard): Philips provided a customized R-curve for the Index-2 that is fully compatible with its own M1190 reusable Sp02 probe, used throughout the Philips patient monitoring and cardiac resuscitation product lines. Philips also provided Fluke with two additional customized Index-2 R-curves for earlier Philips Sp02 probes.

New N-10 R-Curve: The Nellcor N-10 R-curve is updated to more accurately simulate Sp02 with the Nellcor N-10 pulse oximeter.

Fluke Biomedical, a division of Fluke Corp. (Everett, Wash.), is the former DNI Nevada and Biomedical division of Bio-Tek Instruments. (See “Fluke Buys DNI Nevada, Dale and Bio-tek’s Biomed,” April 2002 24×7 Browser.)


‘Reflecting’ on 50 Years of Echocardiography
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of echocardiography, the first cardiac ultrasound reflectoscope recently set out on a 2003 tour of medical conferences in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

 Physicist Carl Hellmuth Hertz (left) and physician Inge Edler in 1977 pose with the original Siemens reflectoscope. Developed in 1953, this reflectoscope was the first ultrasound system used to look at moving cardiac structures in a human being.

The reflectoscope comes courtesy of the Medical History Museum of the University of Lund (Sweden). The museum has loaned the first ultrasound system to look at moving cardiac structures in a human to Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc. (Malvern, Pa.) for exhibit at healthcare shows over the next seven months.

The reflectoscope was developed by Siemens in October 1953 and was first applied to the heart by Inge Edler, head of the department of cardiology at the University Hospital (Lund), and by Carl Helmuth Hertz, a graduate student at the time. Siemens, Edler and Hertz pioneered the clinical application of ultrasound in the medical diagnosis of abnormalities in the heart.

In June, the reflectoscope will appear at the American Society of Echocardiography meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, followed by an appearance at the Asia Pacific Conference of Doppler Echocardiography, Singapore, Malaysia.

In September the reflectoscope travels to the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

October finds the reflectoscope at the Mayo Clinic Anniversary Echocardiogy meeting in Rochester, Minn., and at the World Congress of Echocardiography and Vascular Ultrasound meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In November, the reflectoscope makes its way to the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

In December, the reflectroscope returns to Barcelona, Spain, for the EuroEcho meeting.

It is estimated that more than 25 million echocardiography exams are performed each year throughout the world to help physicians determine the correct treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).