Where’s the value in a strong medical physicist / biomedical engineer relationship?

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Where’s the value in a strong medical physicist / biomedical engineer relationship?

August 21, 2019
From the August 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The point here is not that these two experts weren’t consulted in the decision to change tube suppliers, but rather that they have information that could improve the decision-making. This information may not have altered the decision in any way, but it would go a long way in quantifying its effects. “The use of predictive data and early warning scores in clinical care is becoming an expectation, if it isn’t one already,” says Bauerlein. A similar emphasis on prediction would benefit high-tech equipment utilization as well.

Here are a handful of questions that could be answered with combined medical physicist/biomedical engineer KPI data:

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- Are the new manufacturer’s tubes so much more inexpensive than the old manufacturer’s that the change is still worth it, even considering the increase in downtime?
- Are labor hours or other costs included in this calculation? What are the pertinent costs here beyond equipment downtime and replacement unit cost?
- How does the downtime affect patient service targets or other organizational goals? Do those goals have reputational or financial implications?

Determining the total cost of an equipment purchase, manufacturer change, or other operational shift is a complicated matter. Mining all possible data sources for insights can help leaders make the best decisions for their staff, their bottom line, and their patients. These professionals are fonts of valuable data to be tapped to improve operations.

What a data-based partnership can do
As working biomedical engineers and medical physicists already know, 90 percent of the time they come to the same conclusions about the radiation equipment they’re monitoring. The remaining 10 percent requires slightly more back-and-forth, but both the technical nature of the issue and the two professionals’ shared sense of urgency usually mean they reach a solution quickly, even in areas of initial disagreement. This state of the partnership is immensely important, and should be fostered further through committee work, team-building, and direct contact.

Thomas J. Petrone
Sitting on committees together may indeed help cement trust across professional lines. But there’s a world of value to be created here beyond a smooth working relationship. That value can only really be charted when we leave our siloes, share our data, and exercise our powers of analysis alongside our experience and expertise.

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