They say a person is only as good as his or her team. In that vein, 24×7 Magazine spotlights Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center’s clinical technology (ClinTech) department—led by Jovito “Jojo” Gonzales, the 2019 recipient of AAMI & GE Healthcare’s “BMET of the Year” award. Here, Gonzales reveals the team’s very proactive approach to cybersecurity and the recent victory the department achieved. (Hint: It involves certification.)
24×7 Magazine: Can you please tell us a little bit about your department and the equipment you maintain?

Jojo Gonzales: Our clinical technology (ClinTech) department has a team of six biomedical equipment technicians that support Kaiser Permanente (KP) San Diego Medical Center (SDMC) and outlying medical office buildings. The hospital was touted as one of the most technologically advanced when it opened in April 2017. It features a 24-hour emergency department with 39 private treatment areas; the capacity for 321 single-patient rooms; and several new, state-of-the art technologies to enhance the patient care experience.

ClinTech’s mission statement is: “Enabling safe patient care through clinical technology by driving performance and value, making healthcare high quality and affordable.” And our vision is consistently delivering the five “rights” of clinical technology: the right technology, the right location, the right time, the right support, and the right outcome.

Moreover, we maintain several new medical device modalities that have been integrated into our advanced electronic health record/medical health record system such as ventilators, anesthesia devices, patient monitoring equipment, neurology devices, fetal monitoring equipment, etc. We also perform preventive maintenance, equipment repairs and calibration, incoming inspections, hazard alerts and recalls, user training, equipment evaluations and recommendations, etc. while maintaining regulatory compliance.

24×7: What are some key challenges your team faces on a daily basis?

Gonzales:Due to the fast-paced nature of a robust healthcare organization, one of our biggest challenges is balancing multiple priorities. Our team must maintain flexibility to address constantly evolving clinical priorities and operational needs.We deliver timely, customer-driven professional services 24×7 and often work on multiple projects, scheduled preventive maintenance, unscheduled service requests, equipment evaluations, etc. Regardless of the different challenges we face, we keep “safety first” and foremost in our minds.

And as with any clinical technology department, we haven’t quite solved the “unable-to-locate” equipment mystery. Although we’ve made significant progress using RTLS technology, there’s still room for improvement. Even so, we are as proactive as possible and employ rounding; daily rounds help to expeditiously identify and resolve medical equipment-related issues to prevent interruptions in the delivery of patient care and diverted/canceled cases.

24×7: From a staffing standpoint, what steps is your team taking to attract and retain the right people?

Gonzales: As a team, we’ve taken steps to cultivate a caring and nurturing shop culture while maintaining a healthy work environment. We are a team of independent thinkers and innovators, but with collaborative spirits. Following “kyosei”—a Japanese philosophy of all people living and working harmoniously together—we promote and embrace a supportive culture and constantly share knowledge and ideas with each other.

Our group has embraced the true meaning of teamwork; looking out for one another’s well-being, going above and beyond to support one another, and respecting each other’s opinion. We all share a spirit of camaraderie and strive to celebrate one another’s achievements. We also cross-train as much as possible and provide mentorship.

Also, learning and growth are encouraged since creativity and analytical thinking are vital for personal and professional development. So when someone from the team  presents an issue or problem, we are taught to provide solutions, options, and recommendations.

Finally, our team is actively involved in various HTM professional associations, such as the California Medical Instrumentation Association, AAMI, and our very own SoCal HTM Professionals group. And we host the first site visit for MiraCosta College’s BMET program, thus introducing the students to real-life ClinTech operations.

24×7: Can you please discuss a time when your team ‘saved the day’ for another department?

Gonzales: Our facility and team, it seems, have become the early adaptors of new technologies. We have been entrusted to learn, adapt, and create guidelines that others may follow—and often share the lessons we’ve learned with others in the organization. One of our key wins? We became the first KP hospital to deploy a new patient monitoring technology and several medical device integrations.

What’s more, our team identified the possible risk of accidental PHI disclosures, which resulted in prompting our compliance department to create a new policy regarding the disposal of printer cartridges. Our team is also responsive to clinical needs and has worked closely with the nursing staff to resolve issues and improve the safe use and impact of technology. On several occasions, our prompt response to resolving medical equipment-related issues during surgical procedures or in between cases has resulted in some save-the-day moments in the operating room.

24×7: Your department has received accolades for your approach to cybersecurity. What advice would you give other HTM departments regarding cybersecurity?

Gonzales: Know what you have! Data collection is a vital part of our defense-in-depth strategy as it relates to cybersecurity. You can’t protect your devices if you don’t know what you have. It has become an integral part of our equipment on-boarding process and is included in our preventive maintenance checklist, when appropriate.

We also know that security is only as strong as the weakest link; therefore, cybersecurity trainings are often promoted through classroom classes, webinars, technical bulletins, and other media. Consequently, three of our technicians are currently pursuing A+ certifications.

Our team also engages with vendors regarding equipment cyber-vulnerabilities. After all, we are the “boots on the ground” when it comes to patching and remediating vulnerable devices.

24×7: What else do you want to tell 24×7 Magazine readers about your department?”

In support of our continuous drive for personal and professional development, our team recently won the AAMI Credentials Institute (ACI) 100% Team Certified award. Our team also boasts 120 years of combined BMET experience and five out of the six of us are veterans and graduates of the Department of Defense (DoD) BMET School.

For the last two years, our team also received the KP National Facilities Services Excellence Award. Why? Because of our integrity. We take pride in doing the right thing without expecting any reward. And we treat each piece of equipment as if it could be used on us or one of our loved ones.

SIDEBAR: Team Kudos

“[The ACI 100% Certified Award] is a testament to the strength of the team, and confirmation of what we all already knew: You guys are rockstars.” — Rick Bowie, national executive director, service delivery, clinical technology, Kaiser Permanente

“What a wonderful accomplishment. SDMC has raised the bar for all of us in Southern California.” — Craig Finley, regional director, clinical technology, Kaiser Permanente