There is no doubt that medical imaging technology is constantly changing and being updated. The age of the computer is driving technological break-through as well as increasing the flexibility of hardware through various licensing options. As would be expected, the individuals who service the equipment need to maintain skill sets that are more computer based. There is also a need to be familiar with modern technologies as they develop and grow. Yes, the need for continuing education.
Formal training can be quite expensive even when considered an investment. The cost of training with a manufacturer is significant. Training with an Independent Service Organization (ISO) is typically less, but it is still a sizable investment. The cost to value ratio or the Return On Investment (ROI) of the training will almost always show that training the right people is the best plan. Having trained individuals to service the equipment in-house is almost always the most cost-effective solution. This is reflected in reduced service contracts, lower overall cost of ownership, and reduced down time over the life of the equipment.
There is a hidden cost to training that is hard to quantify. The cost involved with gaining experience. Making a misdiagnosis during a repair, having to pay a restocking fee, and paying extra shipping is a common experience. The “extra” down time of the imaging unit in the first few service events, time that it cannot be used to help patients or generate income, is sometimes the largest cause of additional cost. (These challenges can be mitigated by having a good relationship with an ISO to help during this phase.) However there are other hidden costs.
The real hidden costs come in personnel engagement and relationships. How a “mistake” is handled may determine if the trained individual gains valuable experience or if they focus on avoiding risk. The person who begins to avoid risk will, over time, result in a greater fiscal and personnel cost. The person who learns from the error gains a better understanding of the system and becomes more confident. This is the person who gains experience and, over the life of a system and a career, results in a lower overall financial liability. Management must insure that a mistake will be reviewed to improve performance and not be focused on having someone to blame. Creating this environment will allow the person on the front-line repair gain confidence. They become empowered to do the right thing. There is more to be learned from a challenge and a mistake than from any easy experience. Creating this space, which is necessary for growth and development, will be one step toward having a fully engaged work force.
An important consideration when allowing an individual to gain experience is the impact it will have on the department that is being served. Creating an atmosphere and relationships that involve the department being served as part of the process may mitigate or prevent any issues. Ensuring that all stakeholders are on board and have the same end goal is priceless. As everyone knows, the goal is to provide the best service and care to patients while being fiscally responsible. This is best done through an empowered and engaged work force.