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 them if they’re mishandling or not correctly using a piece of equipment. Since I have no frame of reference in an actual, clinical environment, it would be hard to compare. Plus, we’ve only been open for eight weeks. Come back and ask me in eight months or eight years and you might get a different answer, but right now everything is shiny and new. And we’ve been oriented on all these products; that’s been an important part of this startup, making sure that everybody is oriented to each piece of equipment, that we’re using it correctly and that everything is validated.

Did you have a chance to give vendors suggestions on design improvement or anything along those lines?
We have been, for a long time prior to the opening of CAMLS, a beta test site for many companies. They have a particular product and they ask a number of our physicians in the appropriate clinical specialties to look at products and offer advice—“Do you like this, do you like how it handles, how does it feel, do you like the way it works?” That type of collaboration has existed for a period of time for us and, yes, a lot of that happens at CAMLS—particularly in TBRIC [the Tampa Bay Research & Innovation Center]. That’s part of TBRIC’s purpose, to look at new devices and offer suggestions and improvements.

It must have been fun to go shopping for a lot of high-tech, high-priced medical equipment to use in training.
What was fun was being able to offer the type of training that you feel really has an impact on increasing the competency of the people functioning in the clinical areas. For me that was the exciting part, the impact on improving patient safety and outcomes. The buying of expensive equipment was something that caused indigestion for me. I don’t like those kinds of numbers; they’re kind of scary. Some of the price tags can be a bit intimidating. But the thought that we could assess competencies and offer courses that are actually going to make a difference for patients and their families: To me, that was the exciting part.