A godsend or Godforsaken? As remote network monitoring moves from concept to reality and makes its way into more and more medical equipment and devices, biomedical engineering departments face a new challenge: Is there a role for BMETs? If so, what is it? While the powers that be haggle over who’s in charge of what, biomeds can get in on the ground floor by being part of the planning and negotiation process.

f02a.jpg (11476 bytes)Remote network monitoring can prove to be a godsend to overworked BMETs and IT staff. These systems can identify a potential problem with the primary blood analyzer in the clinical laboratory before it becomes a middle-of-the-night crisis call. They can analyze the security of the IT network to make sure it complies with all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations for patient privacy and ensure the system is as hacker-proof as possible. These days, biomedical and information technology paths often intersect, and BMETs may be required to troubleshoot a network problem.

But if you have any lingering doubts that remote network monitoring can undermine your job security, here’s a piece of advice. When the service contracts are negotiated — be there!

Know the capabilities of your biomedical staff. Recognize there may be more important tasks to be accomplished than sitting in front of a monitor eight to 12 hours a day watching for any glitch that might occur. Delegate those tasks to your outsource monitoring service, and free BMET staff for more important roles, like keeping all the other equipment in the hospital running smoothly.

Remote network monitoring can be interpreted in various ways. In the case of clinical laboratory equipment, some manufacturers incorporate communication software capable of relaying information to their service center about how the device is functioning. Some network monitoring activities involve a managed service provider to assure the smooth and secure functioning of all of the aspects of an IT system. There are also in-house tools that are available for certain monitoring procedures.

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