Sara Peters: An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device

Untrained end users, clueless central IT staff, and expensive mobile devices are a worrisome combination for healthcare CIOs.
12/19/2011 | 11 comments
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Nicky48   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   12/27/2011 8:30:11 PM
You wear it well
WOW - you look great with the sock monkey but I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Did you manage to sleep OK that night?
mejiac   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   12/30/2011 2:53:06 AM
IT in healthcare

Wow....that is worrisome...

I think this is more related to how the Hospital is managed and how resources are allocated for these types of services. There should be a specialist to provide these types of support, both one site and from the 3rd Party. 

Also, with the cost that goes into R&D for that type of equipment, you would think they would put a little more effort to have it be more user friendly and robust (it should use rechargeable batteries, and look more slick, in a more protective enclosure and not have the wires sticking out). Heck, it should be water and shock proof.

This tells us what are the priorities of the companies that develop this technology, to rush it out the door and make a quick buck, and not think of ongoing support.

zerox203   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   12/31/2011 6:44:43 PM
Re: IT in healthcare
(it should use rechargeable batteries, and look more slick, in a more protective enclosure and not have the wires sticking out). Heck, it should be water and shock proof.


@Mejiac,
even though some might think that's asking a lot for something that's already expensive, state-of-the-art technology, as you say, it's for that exact reason that your suggestion makes sense. Most of those things don't seem like they'd make too much dent in an already $8,000 price tag.

I always hesitate to criticize if I'm on the outside looking in. But in this case I have to agree that it seems like there's some disconnect between the device's development and the places it's expected to go in real use.


zerox203   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   12/31/2011 6:48:50 PM
Re: An Untrained User
the internal IT staff issue raises an interesting question; no doubt, hospitals have a large number of expensive, specialized devices like this one, and it's hard to blame their IT staff for not knowing all of them, if they're the same size as a normal IT shop and also have all the regular responsibilities. However, is it that they don't know any of the devices, or that they have to prioritize some over others, and leave the rest to the third parties? If it's the latter, What criteria do they use? It's something I'd love to know more about.

if the IT staff doesn't have the manpower to take care of this task, is it the hospital's fault for not hiring more/appropriate staff, the developers of the device for making it too much for the lay-ITmen to figure it out, or the industry's fault for not recognizing this need to begin with? these are not easy questions to answer.

mejiac   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   12/31/2011 10:44:48 PM
Re: IT in healthcare
Any product that goes out the door should consider the user experience during the R&D phase. This goes to show that many companies are looking to make a quick buck and not provide an actual solution
Sara Peters   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   1/3/2012 5:17:35 PM
Re: You wear it well
@Nicky48  Thanks. The sock is not my favorite look, but it's not like I was going to the prom or something. And although it's never comfortable to sleep with an electronic ponytail, it's much better than a couple years ago when I was in the hospital for a week, with my long wiry ponytail plugged into the wall. That was less fun.
Sara Peters   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   1/3/2012 5:25:03 PM
Re: An Untrained User
@zerox203  You raise so many excellent questions. I wish I had answers for them, and I'll see if I can find some. I don't think it's necessary for the hospital IT staff to be expert in all of these specialized medical devices -- that's what the medical technicians are for. But I've got to imagine that there are plenty of instances in which the IT people should at least have an awareness of what's going on with these devices. I wonder if the CIO is involved at all in the purchasing decisions for these tools...
MariaB   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   1/4/2012 10:06:56 AM
Re: An Untrained User
I think they have the right intention, to improve the accuracy but also patient satisfaction as you say, a couple of years ago it was a week stay and sleeping in the hospital with a bulky device. But the execution is falling down it seems. The hospital should be saving money with the less costly procedure (outpatient now vs. inpatient) so maybe they should divert that savings into training, reinvesting savings into training and innovation is key. Or maybe the manufacturer could be better about not only handing it off to the hospital/IT but writing an end-user guide (or video) that would maybe close the loop but also differentiate them in the market.
Sara Peters   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   1/4/2012 10:42:38 AM
Re: An Untrained User
@MariaB  That's a great suggestion -- having the manufacturer write a guide or video for the person hooked up to the machine, as well as some guide/training for the IT staff so that they understand the basics. (Maybe then they could at least stock up on extra batteries, or better document data archiving and data security processes, what-have-you.)

I should say that thusfar I've never had a problem. My electrodes have never come undone and I haven't had a battery failure and I haven't dipped the whole thing in the bathtub. And yes, the outpatient procedure is not just cheaper, it's also theoretically produces more valuable results because the patient has the opportunity to continue their normal behavior instead of sitting in a hospital room all day. (Although I'm too vain to hang out in public with that crap on my head, so it's not ENTIRELY normal behavior.) So overall the system isn't bad, as long as your EEG technicians are great (which mine is) and your patient is careful.

But if I were responsible for risk management, security, compliance, or disaster recovery at the hospital, I'd be nervous.
freespiritny25   An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device   2/16/2012 5:35:12 AM
An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device
In the very least, they should be trained to troubleshoot. I sappose they travel with extra machines, in case one is faulty. How the heck do you sleep with all that?
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