The North Carolina Biomedical Association recently held its annual conference at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Spa in Concord, NC, September 9–11. According to NCBA president Clint McCoy, the meeting was the association’s largest since 2012, with a headcount that included 225 biomeds and approximately 190 vendor staff across about 70 vendors.

“Our value of education is showing with the increasing numbers,” McCoy said during a break at the event. “Our education sets us apart from any other organization.”

The conference featured a range of educational and technical offerings, from implementing the HL7 interface to electronic medical records to an overview of perfusion systems and laser safety, as well as sessions on the future of HTM technology and Joint Commission updates.

Marilyn Neder Flack, executive director of the AAMI Foundation, delivered a keynote address September 10 urging biomeds to take a leadership role at their facilities in partnering with clinical staff and improving communication. “Outsourcing is a reality,” she warned, and without demonstrating their value, biomeds could find their jobs cut in order to save costs for health insurance and Social Security.

One of the most common complaints among biomeds toward clinical staff, Flack noted, is that nurses don’t know how to properly use equipment or handle it too roughly. When equipment is broken, they often fail to provide enough detail on repair forms to help biomeds understand how to fix the problem.

Flack encouraged audience members to start by listening to nurses and to try to see things from their perspective. Often, she said, nurses receive inadequate training and are trained months before they need to actually use a particular piece of equipment or specific function. In some cases, they may not have realistic expectations about how a device is supposed to perform.

Finding out where the knowledge gap exists—by talking with nurses, attending nurse training days, or making “people rounds” to chat with clinical staff—can go a long way toward improving communication and eliminating problems. When explaining how to use equipment, biomeds should use nontechnical jargon and make an effort to adopt clinical terms to give them more credibility. Posting key excerpts from equipment user manuals on the hospital intranet can also help nurses avoid common user problems.

For locations in the hospital where equipment is repeatedly damaged, Flack suggested that biomeds visit the area to check how devices are stored. In some cases, they might be able to recommend how room layout could be improved to prevent equipment from being bumped or pushed aside. If possible, biomeds should go through repair forms with nurses verbally and ask them to describe a device’s problems the way a patient would list their symptoms. This approach can help biomeds more accurately diagnose the problem.

By starting slow and taking small steps, Flack said, biomeds can make significant improvements in managing relations with clinical staff and reducing frustrations.