Written by Alan Moretti, Healthcare Technology Management Advisor

Welcome to this first installment of the “Bridging the Gap” column. So, one may ask, what is the gap being bridged? Great question, this column will speak to the theme of each magazine issue and involve individuals to share the perspectives of clinical users and service engineers. One of the goals is to create a thought-provoking synergy and bond-strengthening relationship between clinical equipment users and the service engineering support group.

The theme of this month’s column is ultrasound. Joining me are two experienced ultrasound imaging professionals. Julie Cardoso is an Ultrasound Clinical Director. Robert Dierkes is an Ultrasound Imaging Engineer. Julie and Robert were asked questions related to training, informatics (the IT thing), transducer care and the perception of skill/problem reporting all leading toward the “perceived and real gaps” that they see from their vantage points.
OK, here we go.

Julie and Robert, when discussing training and how that relates to service skills, said that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Independent Service Organizations (ISOs) training curriculums both have positives and negatives. The OEM training offerings are viewed by clinical users as the superior of the two options. This was not a surprise, but it confirms that there are significant perception hurdles that exist for ISOs to win over clinical users.

Now, when we discussed informatics (a.k.a. IT) you know that regarding the “interaction thing” the reaction was an overwhelmingly “V-tach” pain point. Both Julie and Robert went to town. A common disconnect both the clinical users and imaging service professionals clearly agree on is that there is a significant gap in each group’s understanding of how to navigate in an IT environment! What’s an AE title? IP and Mac address? What does bandwidth have to do with getting the image from the ultrasound equipment to the radiologist’s review station? Lots of education and improvement are needed for clinical users and imaging equipment service personnel alike.

Then, we spoke about transducer care and handling. This is another Pandora’s box and an opportunity for improvement, according to Julie and Robert. Pre-inspecting the transducers for nicks, cuts and pinholes prior to any cleaning was recognized as the number one gap improvement opportunity. Julie and Robert said they feel there is need for improved awareness and visibility. The outcomes induced when fluid invasion occurs is almost always traced back to a lack of clinical user QA. Also, imaging service engineers are still on the hook to fully examine each transducer from plug to applicator tip during every PM inspection. How many of you really do that?

Lastly, the conversation with Julie and Robert turned to some brunt dialog as to how clinical users report equipment service problems and the expectations of those attempting to provide service solutions to remediate the reported equipment problems. The bridging of this gap is much better than some may think. The comments shared by Julie and Robert gave the impression that reporting equipment service events are sent and received well enough that a collaborative effort exists to enable a service solution plan to successfully occur. Unclear communication, as we all hear so often, is the “weakest link of all chains.” So, I conclude this first Bridging the Gap column with a reminder that perception is 80 percent of reality. ICE