At one time, operating biomedical equipment in a hospital involved turning a device on and making sure it worked, says Michael Fraai, MS, CCE, who has led BWH Biomedical Engineering since 2002. The field has certainly come a long way, as hospitals and other clinical environments become increasingly dependent on highly sophisticated devices that help clinicians deliver better care.
Biomedical Engineering at BWH is no different. It is responsible for more than 24,000 patient care devices—from electrocardiogram machines and infusion pumps to patient monitors and anesthesia equipment. The department, which has been moved from Information Systems (IS) into the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and the associate chief of Quality and Safety, serves BWH through collaboration with clinicians on technology selection, installation, inspection, maintenance, repair, upgrades, design and more. It has championed many patient care improvement projects over the years.
“One of the goals of realigning the department within the Office of the CMO and Quality and Safety is making sure that technology selection, implementation and utilization are all clinically driven,” said Fraai, now executive director of Biomedical Engineering and Device Integration. “This more closely aligns biomedical engineering and device integration with clinical and safety operations, which in turn benefits our patients.”
Fraai says that Biomedical Engineering has gone from a support team to a solutions department that manages the full life-cycle of patient care technology, and educates and collaborates with clinicians about what specific technologies can achieve. The department’s credo is that no patient or caregiver will ever be hurt by a technology under its sphere of influence. The team collaborates with clinicians and other staff across BWH for safe and effective applications of complex technologies.
“As biomedical devices become increasingly vital to patient care and monitoring, having the ability to work much more closely with Biomedical Engineering will be invaluable to our quality and safety efforts,” said Associate Chief Quality Officer Allen Kachalia, MD, JD.
The restructure will also be helpful as BWH implements Partners eCare—the enterprise-wide, integrated clinical, administrative and revenue system. The department will identify the technologies that will be impacted and safely and effectively integrate them with Epic, the vendor working with Partners to develop Partners eCare.
Fraai says that he and the department are excited about the reorganization and grateful for the support of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mairead Hickey, PhD, RN.
Going forward, Biomedical Engineering’s relationship with IS will remain essential. The departments will continue to work together on new technologies and device integration.