Dräger, Siemens enter into joint venture; ACCE announces phone forums; Instrumentarium-Spacelabs update

Dräger medical, Siemens enter into joint venture
Drägerwerk AG (Lübeck, Germany) and Siemens Medical Solutions (Erlangen, Germany) on May 30 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enter into a joint venture.

According to spokespersons for the two companies, the agreement calls for Siemens to hold a 35 percent stake in Dräger Medical AG & Co. KgaA in return for Siemens’ contribution of its Electromedical Systems division. The result will be the joint venture, “Dräger Medical — a Dräger and Siemens Company,” which will incorporate the integrated systems and service activities of Dräger Medical with the patient monitoring, anesthesia equipment, ventilation systems and related services offered by Siemens’ Electromedical Systems.

The deal is a combination asset, stock and cash transaction and is subject to regulatory approvals. “We anticipate no decision before the end of this year,” the spokespersons said in June.

The management board of the new venture will be appointed jointly by Dräger and Siemens. Dr. Wolfgang Reim, current CEO of Dräger Medical, will continue as CEO of the joint venture, with other members of the board appointed when the deal is finalized.

The new enterprise is expected to have 6,400 employees, 4,800 of whom will be from Dräger Medical and 1,600 of whom will be drawn from Siemens Medical worldwide.

“The reason we decided to enter a joint venture is clear. Our goal is to be one of the leading solutions providers worldwide in the OR (operating room)/anesthesia, neonatal to adult critical care, emergency care and in home-care ventilation,” Reim said in the statement. “With the added expertise through the joint venture, especially in patient monitoring, we will be able to provide customers around the globe with complete, integrated solutions at the acute point-of-care. In addition, through Siemens Med’s market strength in the United States, we will gain an added stronghold in the world’s largest single market.”

“By joining our activities, Siemens Med has an improved ability to offer customers a consistent solution throughout healthcare. Here, the IT landscape plays a key role,” Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, president, Siemens Electromedical Systems division, offered in the statement. “The joint venture will also develop, manufacture and market IT solutions for the acute point-of-care through the use of Siemens’ basic software architecture syngo and Soarian, platforms that can be integrated into all areas of the healthcare sector for more complete solutions.”

The two companies’ product portfolios complement one another in the ventilation and the anesthesia sectors. In addition, Siemens Electromedical offers competencies in patient monitoring, and Dräger Medical, in patient data management systems. Also, the Dräger Medical home-care product line will help to expand Siemens’ presence in that sector.

The new company will have global sales and service organizations positioned in more than 100 countries, together with development and production facilities in Lübeck; Solna (Sweden); Best (The Netherlands); Telford, Pa., and Danvers, Mass. (United States); and Shanghai (China).

NESCE Conference Homes in on Hemodialysis
The New England Society of Clinical Engineers (NESCE) recently held a one-day conference on the topic of safe water for hemodialysis at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn.

More than 70 biomeds, dialysis nurses and technicians, and administrators from area hospitals and clinics attended the program, which was sponsored by NESCE, Lawrence & Memorial and Osmonics (Minnetonka, Minn.). Osmonics manufactures water treatment machines, components and equipment featuring reverse osmosis and other purification technologies.

d01a.jpg (8504 bytes)(l-r) Roger DeBaise, NESCE vice president; James Liska, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital; Rebecca Amato, Osmonics; Tom Citak, St. Joseph’s Health/Fatima Hospital; and Terry McClure, Osmonics, take a break during the conference.

Osmonics representatives Rebecca Amato, Glen Mitchell and Terry McClure presented an overview of water treatment and reverse osmosis water purification. Their demonstration also covered the various AAMI (The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation)

/FDA; CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), formerly HCFA; and JACHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) standards that regulate those treatments.

Among the preparations for the occasion was a new NESCE banner, which proved to be an eye-catching attraction, affixed to the registration table that was set up in a high-traffic area. Many hospital staff members and visitors alike inquired about the banner and the organization, including a 92-year-old biomed, retired from the William W. Backus Hospital (Norwich, Conn.). “Are you guys still around?” he asked with a chuckle, noting that he retired from the profession in 1975 — the year NESCE attempted to get under way!

NESCE thanks members James Liska, manager of biomed at Lawrence & Memorial, for coordinating the event, and Tom Citak, biomed team leader at St. Joseph Health Services/Fatima Hospital (North Providence, R.I.), for organizing the topic and selecting Osmonics as the presenter. Liska also co-hosted, with colleague John Finegan.

Roger DeBaise, NESCE vice president, represented the association’s board.

The conference was part of NESCE’s renewed effort at visibility and its attempt to provide more support to individual members, member organizations and the biomedical engineering profession.

Tech support with a bite

There is nothing the Web Worm hates more than being on the laptop deep down in his underground lair hacking away and coming up against a nasty technical glitch. Blank screen. Kaput. Nothing works, and it brings the Web surfing to a standstill for our frantically frustrated fishbait.

Well, it was a happy day when the Geek Squad came to town with its “24/7” tech support. The Geek Squad is cranking up computer service by offering 24-hour computer and network support in several markets across the United States, including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Flat-rate service rates avoid those swirling hourly blowups, and the “we don’t date” philosophy guarantees all-hour support. You break it, the Geeks fix it.

 But perhaps the best feature of the Geek Squad is its Web site, www.geeksquad.com. According to the site, the Geek Squad was created to “protect society from the assault of computerized technology. That and the fact that we can’t get dates.” A deeper read of the site unveils many other such nuggets, such as the squad’s warning that harboring a “fugitive computer” can cause nausea, headaches and sweating. Service with a satirical smirk. Amen!

While the Slithering Surfer is above endorsing any corporate site, it is a comfort to know that someone is pushing the limits of independent computer tech support and doing it with a sense of humor.



You Gotta Love It!
Mutter Museum
Are you really into fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens? I mean, really, really into them? So much so that your local medical museum just doesn’t cut it? Are you constantly seeking out more fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens everywhere you go?

d01b.jpg (9808 bytes)Well, it may be time for you to make a pilgrimage to the Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia. The Mutter has an impressive collection of more than 20,000 items, including more than 900 fluid-preserved and anatomical pathological specimens. And if that isn’t enough for you, a current special exhibit features conjoined twins in early European history (kinda brings new meaning to the “City of Brotherly Love”).

Sure, there are also more than 10,000 medical instruments and apparati on display dating as far back as 1750 for the technical historians; 400 anatomical and pathological models in plaster, wax and paper mache; and 200 items of memorabilia of famous scientists and physicians. But we know it’s the fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens that will draw the 24×7 crowd.

And when you’re done with your pilgrimage and ready to head back to the biomed department, you can take home a Mutter Museum calendar or coffee-table book to cherish the memories until your next visit!

AAMI Expo Promotes Education and Exploration
Organized around the theme, “Leading the Way in Healthcare Technology Management and Support,” the 2002 Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Conference convened in Minneapolis, June 1-4, for four days of educational sessions and symposiums, keynote speakers, awards, exhibit hall activities and the camaraderie that such interactions encourage.

With daily sessions “tracked” in six categories — Business Management, Imaging, Information Technology, Risk Management & Regulatory Affairs, Technical Operations & Support and Medical Innovations & Research — attendees easily navigated their way through programs on patient safety, HIPAA compliance, wireless networks, staffing and hiring issues, and more.

“Dealing with the Healthcare Labor Shortage,” for example, roused a roomful with presentations and discussion of the work force shortage in biomedical departments. Observations included: biomedical engineering continues to offer a limited career path; hospitals are focused on nursing and other high-profile shortages; the profession can be its own worst enemy with some members discouraging newcomers out of fear for job security; and the lack of standardized biomedical educational programs and the controversy over certification hinders recruitment efforts.

Among suggestions for effecting change: stepping up recruitment efforts, even introducing biomedical to high-school career fairs; working to improve visibility; and taking advantage of continuing education and certification opportunities.

It’s no wonder “Telemetry: A time of Rapid Transition” played to a packed house: Hospitals are required to upgrade or replace existing telemetry networks by Oct. 16, 2003. Also, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that all medical telemetry transmitters operating in the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) bands be registered with a private frequency coordinator to avoid interference problems. Each presenter used his or her hospital as a case study, reviewing the process that resulted in selection of the WMTS or Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) radio band, its choice of vendor and its implementation schedule.

At the awards luncheon, Dennis Edwards, CBET, Lenoir Memorial Hospital Inc. (Kinston, N.C.) was honored as the GE Medical Systems BMET of the Year. Edwards, who has worked at Lenoir since 1982 and obtained his certification in 1992, is responsible for the implementation, verification and testing of all diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. He received $1,000 and a plaque.

Chris Peters, CBET, University of Michigan Health System, was selected as the TISCOR/Herb Gardner Foundation award winner. With the university since 1984, Peters has technical responsibility for 72 ambulatory clinics and serves as part-time instructor and coordinator of the Biomedical Technology program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich. The award included $1,000 and a plaque.

ReMedPar Names New Chairman, Senior Man
Service and parts provider ReMedPar Inc. (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) named Philip Pfeffer as the company’s new chairman in June. At the same time, the board of directors approved several senior-management-level promotions.

Pfeffer, who is president and CEO of Treemont Capital Inc. (Nashville, Tenn.), served as executive vice president of Ingram Industries Inc., (Nashville) and chairman of the board and CEO of the Ingram Distribution Group Inc., before his retirement in 1996.

He also served as president and COO of Random House Inc., retiring upon the sale of the company in 1998 to The Bertelsmann Group.

“Phil Pfeffer will bring significant knowledge to ReMedPar from his experience with Ingram Industries in logistics and distribution,” Edward A. Sloan Sr., ReMedPar president and CEO, said in a statement. “His proven leadership capabilities will take ReMedPar to the pinnacle of the opportunities that we see in the marketplace today.”

Other board-approved appointments are those of Mark Suffridge, to senior vice president; Wanda Legate, to vice president, customer service; Edward Sloan Jr., to vice president, technical operations; and Jamie Singleton, to controller.

In his new position, Suffridge will be responsible for the daily execution of the company’s strategy across its business units. Suffridge has held several technical and managerial positions at the firm since joining ReMedPar in 1989.

Legate had been customer service manager for ReMedPar since 1999. Previously, she had been responsible for parts service distribution for Philips Medical Systems.
Sloan has been with ReMedPar since 1987 in various positions, the most recent being technical operations manager.

Singleton served as assistant controller from 1999 to 2000. Prior to rejoining ReMedPar, Singleton had been assistant controller at Inphact Inc. (Nashville, Tenn.).

GEMSIT, Zoll Ink Multiyear Aed Plus Distribution Deal
GE Medical Systems Information Technologies (GEMSIT of Milwaukee) in June signed an exclusive, multiyear distribution agreement with Zoll Medical Corp. (Burlington, Mass.).

Under the terms of the agreement, GEMSIT will distribute the Zoll AED Plus automated external defibrillator (AED) to physicians’ offices and clinics throughout the United States.

Designed specifically for the people most likely to be the first on the scene, the AED Plus features a combination of step-by-step illustrations and audio coaching to help rescuers through the life-saving process.

The Zoll release announcing the agreement estimated the size of the market for the AED Plus at between 240,000 and 250,000 physician offices and clinics nationwide.

Germany, U.S. OK Instrumentarium-Spacelabs Deal
German antitrust authorities in late May unconditionally approved the proposed acquisition of Spacelabs Medical Inc. (Richmond, Wash.) by Instrumentarium Corp. (Helsinki, Finland).

Earlier that same month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) completed its review without objecting to the proposed transaction between the two firms.

Commenting on the most recent approval, Carl Lombardi, chairman and CEO of Spacelabs, stated that the companies were “on track” to complete the merger in or before July.

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Instrumentarium will pay $14.25 in cash for each share of Spacelabs common stock for a total of approximately US$140 million.

The deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies but remains subject to Spacelabs’ stockholder approval, other regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

The business will operate as the Spacelabs Medical division of Instrumentarium. It will continue to serve its customers directly through existing U.S. sales channels.

When Instrumentarium announced in March its intention to buy Spacelabs Medical, the company indicated that, in international critical-care markets, the Spacelabs Medical division will cooperate with the established sales channels of Datex-Ohmeda Inc. (Madison, Wis.), also an Instrumentarium division. The two divisions will continue to serve their respective distributors worldwide. The company said it anticipated that the acquisition would have little impact on Datex-Ohmeda’s global critical care operations outside the United States or on Datex-Ohmeda’s U.S. operations in anesthesia.

Spacelabs Medical provides integrated healthcare information systems and instrumentation with a focus on wireless, telemedicine and Internet products for healthcare. In cardiology, the company offers ECGs, and ambulatory blood pressure and Holter monitors.

Instrumentarium operates in the anesthesia, critical-care, medical equipment and optical retail markets.

NCBA To Focus On Endoscopy With Olympus
The North Carolina Biomedical Association (NCBA) will offer Olympus endoscopy courses at the Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, N.C., Aug. 6-9.

Classes in Endoscope Inspection will be held on Aug. 6 and Aug. 8. EVIS System Setup and Support will be conducted on Aug. 7 and Aug. 9.

Cost, per class, is $350 for NCBA members and $495 for nonmembers. The price does not include hotel accommodations.

A registration form is available on the NCBA Web site, www.ncbiomedassoc.com.  under the events listing. For additional information, call Linda Leitch at 919.681.4293 or e-mail her at vicepres@ncbiomedassoc.com.