Feature: Simulation center puts equipment management in service of medical education

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CAMLS Exterior Illustration - 96.01 Kb

The University of South Florida opened its $38 million Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulation (CAMLS) in February, bringing 90,000 square feet of high-tech clinical training to downtown Tampa.

CAMLS was back in the news April 9, when the American College of Cardiology designated the facility as its first Center of Excellence in Education and Training.

As previously reported, the facility is anchored by a center for surgical and interventional training that houses 39 surgical stations, a virtual patient-care center, a robotics training area, a simulative trauma room and a hybrid operating suite. Also under the roof is the Tampa Bay Research & Innovation Center.

Healthcare Technology Management ( HTM) spoke with Beverly Hughes, COO of CAMLS and executive director for continuing professional development at USF Health, who was in on the design and outfitting of the new facility. She took our questions on managing medical equipment in a nonclinical setting.

HTM: What priorities guided the selection and acquisition of the medical equipment at CAMLS?
Hughes: When we look at medical education, we look at filling gaps in practice. Those gaps dictate the types of courses that we offer, and the courses dictate the kinds of equipment we obtain. For example, in offering courses on the use of ultrasound in critical care medicine, we saw that bedside practitioners do not always have all the skills required to appropriately use ultrasound equipment. So, we partnered with Philips [Healthcare] to obtain ultrasound machines and develop a curriculum—not for credit but for the proper use of ultrasound at the bedside and in the critical care environment.

In picking vendors to partner with and purchase from, what considerations mattered most?
Well, for example, our hybrid lab was a huge purchase, and that also involved Philips. We spoke with various vendors and we were looking for educational partners, so we looked at the functioning of the lab, what labs physicians in the area were actually utilizing, features, clinical preferences of our USF faculty—all of those things came into play when making those choices. Prices came into play too, because the hybrid lab wasn’t a donation; it was a purchase.

Was some of the equipment donated?
The majority of the equipment was purchased at discounted prices. We got the discounting because we’re not using it as a source of revenue, as it would be if it were used for patient care, where you get a charge-back. Typically, as with books and other [educational resources], industry usually gives a bit of a competitive pricing advantage to academic institutions for training.

Are you going with service contracts to cover the maintenance of the equipment?
Almost every piece of high-tech equipment at CAMLS is associated with a service contract. Really, you would be remiss to make an investment like that and not have a service contract. From our simulators to our high-tech equipment in the SITC (Surgical and Interventional Training Center), we have service contracts associated with our equipment.

Did you weigh other service options, such as bringing in an independent service organization or perhaps expanding USF Health’s clinical engineering operation?
Not that I was exposed to or aware of, because, for the most part, when we were negotiating on the equipment itself, the service contract was an integral part of the purchase negotiation. It wasn’t a separate negotiation, but a part of the purchase. Oftentimes, the service for the first year is included anyway, so it’s the extended service contract for the second year or third year that can vary.

Who is the point person making sure the manufacturers’ service teams follow through on the particulars of the contracts?
We have a facilities manager who is responsible to keep track of all the high-tech equipment service contracts. He has a database that tells him when which machine needs what service, whether it’s air conditioning or surgical equipment, and attached to that is the service contract agreement.

How is medical equipment management different in a training setting as opposed to a clinical setting?
That’s difficult for me to answer because I’ve never been responsible for it in a clinical setting. That’s much different because you have many more users than we see here. We’re in a more controlled environment and we have a smaller staff than, say, Tampa General Hospital. We’re here shoulder to shoulder with the learners, and we can advise