A Clear Connection: When IT Met Biomedical!


‘Together we can’ is a fitting theme for the Healthcare Technology and Data Management (HTDM) Department of Eastern Health. In this department, a group of professionals work actively and quietly behind the scenes of patient care.

Not many people may know exactly what we do in HTDM … but it’s a ground-breaking field that aims to take the delivery of quality patient care to the next level.

My name is Fraser Fry, and I have been with Eastern Health for 12 years. My story is about the formation of our department – about the service we offer through a mix of medical equipment, systems and information technology (IT). Sounds impressive, right?

Fraser Fry, Manager of Biomedical Equipment Support at Eastern Health

Fraser Fry, manager of Biomedical Equipment Support at Eastern Health

Blended!

HTDM is also responsible for the procurement, installation and support of Eastern Health’s hardware, software and medical equipment technologies. This includes:

  • the provision of effective information, audio-visual, telecommunications and medical equipment support services to various community health and home health programs, hospital departments and long-term care homes; and
  • maintaining a high degree of integration among the existing and new telecommunications, information and biomedical engineering solutions.

Take the integration of operating rooms (OR) as another example of our work. ORs are now being equipped with IT systems, patient-related information such as images, video and data, surgical lights, and other state-of-the-art medical equipment. Integrated ORs are lean and free of bulky cords and cables, because they run inside the arms of ceiling-mounted lights and booms through conduits in the ceiling. Functionally connected ORs promote safety and efficiency, which leads to improved workflows of surgical staff.

Visual of an integrated operating room

Visual of an integrated operating room

I’ve been part of the management team for five years, within the Biomedical Equipment Support Division. This division is responsible for maintaining and acquiring medical equipment technology – to be used safely and effectively in the delivery of patient care. Three years ago, we amalgamated with the Information Technology department at Eastern Health to form HTDM as we know it today.

While each department had significant strengths, understanding the intricacies of each was not an easy task. To me, it was a seamless and very positive experience. HTDM has become more efficient and productive as a result of the amalgamation.

Streamlined!

A key benefit of the merger was the ability to implement a simplified architecture for the various wired and wireless networks throughout Eastern Health.

Traditionally, medical equipment technology operated as a stand-alone or part of proprietary network that was isolated from the main hospital network. But in this day and age, medical equipment and procedures are becoming much more reliant on technology and are connected to diverse networking environments, such as Personal Area Networks (PANs), Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs) and the Internet.

Using the combined expertise of biomedical engineering technologists and information management technicians, Eastern Health was able to remove many proprietary networks – and now uses the main hospital network for medical equipment technology implementations.

Health care sees tremendous benefits when IT and Biomedical personnel work together as one cohesive unit. By using our combined skillsets, we can concentrate our focus on technical components of innovation and on the latest advancements in technology, which in turn help ensure:

  • more accurate delivery of patient care diagnostics; and
  • monitoring processes in an optimum way – in a reliable environment.

Medical devices and systems are now being designed to operate as special purpose computers, where features are automated, and rich sets of clinical data can be collected from a variety of sources, analyzed and stored in efforts to provide pre-emptive care to patients.

Patient-centred!

This is all very exciting in the provision of patient care – for lots of reasons!

Instant access: This process has proven to significantly improve efficiency, workflow and provides more opportunities to use patient information for the development of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which are real-time, digital versions of patients’ paper charts – that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users.

Central access: Electrocardiography (ECG) machines are an example of health care systems that use to operate in isolation, without a network connection – but now function in an integrated hospital Wi-Fi network. In a typical ECG exam, electrodes are placed on a patient’s limbs and chest area and the electrical potential of the heart is measured. In the past, ECG reports were printed for review and reporting by cardiologists. With integration to the Wi-Fi network, ECG reports are now sent to a centralized ECG management system for reporting. This has improved clinical efficiencies and provided improved reporting processes for cardiologists.

Critical access: These kinds of changes can help reduce spending, streamline patient care, and provide access to quality services, which, in return, can help reduce patient risk.
Care becomes not only more efficient – but more effective. In the case of Eastern Health, these synergies also highlight the importance of two formally independent expertise groups working together.

“The result of such a collaboration is a stronger team approach and greater understanding of health care delivery that interacts seamlessly in our ‘technology ecosystem,” says Trevor Trimm, regional manager of Enterprise Architecture at Eastern Health, who designs and implements communication infrastructure and cyber security defense systems.

Innovative Access: Another significant benefit from the blended HTDM department is improved strategic planning and innovation. June Quilty-Clarke oversees critical project implementations and change management processes associated with them. As regional manager of the Project Management Office, she’s also accountable for the provision of tele-health and audio-visual services at Eastern Health.

“Working as a cohesive team has resulted in significant benefits for project implementations,” June says. “We help to facilitate clinical and managerial decision-making throughout Eastern Health, which strengthens our ability to implement quality solutions for our health care providers.”

June Quilty-Clarke, regional manager of the Project Management Office within HTDM, working with Trevor Trimm, regional manager of Enterprise Architecture at Eastern Health.

(l-r): June Quilty-Clarke, regional manager of the Project Management Office within HTDM, working with Trevor Trimm, regional manager of Enterprise Architecture at Eastern Health.

Biomedical Engineering technologists, project managers and change managers: together, our unique skillsets mean HTDM can identify risks and implement medical equipment technology and medical application software seamlessly and safely throughout the organization.

Together, we are dedicated to implementing best practices based on the joint experiences of our staff – and on the latest in technology and information management available to us.

When quality care for those we serve is the goal – learning and making improvements is a never-ending process! ■

This story was written by Fraser Fry, in collaboration with June Quilty-Clarke and Trevor Trimm, who are valued employees within the Healthcare Technology and Data Management (HTDM) department of Eastern Health.

4 responses to “A Clear Connection: When IT Met Biomedical!

  1. Great article Fraser and an excellent approach having IT and biomedical working so closely together. I really appreciate your focus on patient care in all this. Good stuff !

  2. Excellent article that provides me with better understanding of the complexity of our systems and the efforts to streamline and make all that we have available, useful and efficient – all in the name of better patient and employee care!

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