By David Elkins, Regional Manager
Applications training is often grudgingly seen as an expensive but necessary cost. The truth is applications training is more than just training your technologist to operate the machine: it facilitates an orderly move from one type of equipment and/or environment to another.
Technologist experience and skill set will vary from one scanner or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to another. Applications training is important to ensure a smooth transition to your new or interim diagnostic MRI, CT, PET/CT or Nuclear Imaging Equipment.
Numed is one of the few third-party vendors to offer applications training to its customers, most often provided by actual Numed employees.
Applications are included in long-term leases or contracts lasting more than 1 year and can always be negotiated on shorter term projects. For example, many of our equipment leases are on an interim basis such as an interim mobile CT or MR lease while the customer’s in-house unit is being repaired or replaced. In cases such as these, we understand the need to be up and running quickly and to carefully coordinate the timing of applications training with the shut-down of the existing equipment. No one wants to be without access to a CT scanner, even for a few hours.
At Numed, we use applications trainers, employed by us, who are working technologists with real world experience. Their goal is for the technologist to be scanning confidently in days, not weeks. Our applications specialists cover basic scanning, advanced procedures, protocol development, and power injector training. In addition, we demo parts of the mobile environment such as operating the lift and assist with developing safe practices in a mobile or stationary environment.
Prior to delivery of a unit, an applications specialist from Numed will contact the client in advance to determine delivery and go-live dates. Some customers want to start on the day their existing unit goes down while others prefer an overlap of a few days. Regardless, these calls are to plan for the orderly transition from one scanner to another and for contingencies that may arise.
Applications can range from 2-4 days, but most mobile applications training are 2 days. Due to time constraints and to maximize the training, it is recommended that training be limited to 2-4 of the most experienced technologists. These staff members may then serve as trainers to the less experienced technologists.
Training looks like this:
Day 1: On the morning of the first day of applications training, staff are given a brief orientation to the mobile environment, if applicable, and then a review of the system components. Afterward basic protocol building is done, and phantoms are scanned. For MRI, volunteers are scanned.
That afternoon, a limited number of routine exams are performed on real, scheduled patients. Not only is this beneficial for scanner training but helps to establish patient workflow as well. This is especially important in a mobile environment or if a new service is being offered.
Day 2: A partial to full schedule is planned. Any issues identified on the previous day of scanning are addressed. Due to the limited number application days, working with an actual schedule is valuable to see and address issues that can occur while the applications person is present. To say that Numed offers applications support in the manner of the major OEMs would be inaccurate. Numed works closely with our clients to evaluate their needs and expectations ahead of time to tailor an approach that meets their goals as quickly as possible. Applications training and support doesn’t stop when the specialists leave.
At Numed, we have over 120 staff technologists with experience on various platforms including GE, Philips and Siemens. If an issue arises, they simply need to call the service desk and an applications specialist will contact you to assist. We don’t do applications training like the OEMs, we do a lot more than that.