Let’s Talk

 KauffmanCommunication, communication, communication. One of the most important aspects of life is the communication we have with others—family, friends, coworkers, etc.

Years ago, the creation of local BMET societies established forums for discussing common medical equipment problems and concerns. Simply finding out that another institution had the same problem as yours could help resolve an issue and result in reduced equipment downtime. Biomeds spent hours making phone calls to users of equipment similar to theirs in attempts to find solutions to their problems. Prior to the purchase of new systems by biomed departments, vendors provided reference lists of clients to “check out.” Unfortunately references almost always resulted in positive feedback. (Why would a manufacturer give out a phone number of someone who hates its product?)

The creation of Biomedtalk in September 1997 has changed all that. Simply posting a question about a problem or potential equipment purchase can result in feedback from more than 2,100 members in 19 countries. The days when a manufacturer can say that yours is the only institution having a particular problem are over. Finding a person who just rewrote a cell phone policy or job description is just an email away. Learning that a particular piece of new equipment has a high failure rate may sway your purchasing decision.

Biomedtalk was created to fill a void that I had personally experienced as a manager. I was trying to reduce the time that we spent on scheduled inspections, and I wanted feedback from others. I had already tapped the local sources and spent a great deal of time on the phone doing so. Through a Web search, I located another list claiming to be for biomedical technicians. I posted my question and received a great many responses, none of which were expected. The majority of responses were, “Such questions do not belong on this list!” Uncomfortable with posting another question, I found that America Online would host a Listserv that could be dedicated to our profession. Biomedtalk was born. One email now reaches thousands. The response reaches the same group of thousands. There is no need to visit a discussion group or Web chat ring. All the information is right there waiting for you in your mailbox. I welcome any question that is related to servicing medical equipment. No question is too simple or banned.

I strongly encourage anyone in the medical-equipment–repair business to join and monitor Biomedtalk. Membership is free (although donations are appreciated) and comes in a variety of forms. The hard-core biomed can receive every message as it is posted. In a matter of seconds after a user sends an email, the message is broadcast to all members. Others have elected to receive the digest forum. Once a day, all messages are compiled as in a book and sent out in a large email. Another method of participating is simply receiving an “index” of message subjects that hyperlink to the actual message. In that way, users select a message to read based on the subject matter. Their browser takes them to the single message of interest. The last way to enjoy the list information is to simply join and set your email program for “nomail.” As desired, members can connect to the Web archives to search by topic, poster, or selected text.

No matter how you do it, please communicate. Our profession can be only as good as we make it. We need to give honest, professional, and noteworthy commentary to others in our field. We need to emphasize the importance of good service manuals and cooperation between manufacturers and service departments. We should establish common goals, common themes, and a focus on building our vocation. Your expertise could save someone time and money, and, in return, you might be the recipient of such a savings by receiving needed information. The simplicity and level of interaction for our profession are many times greater than they were with the local biomed societies. They know no boundaries. Please do your part and join now.

For more information, see the FAQ Web page at http://hometown.aol.com/biomedmike/indexa.html.  

Michael Kauffman, CBET, is the biomedical equipment manager at Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Reading, Pa.