Upon entering the biomedical equipment program, I did not have a clue as to what to expect from industry as a technician. Now, I have at least a basic understanding of what my work will consist of as a biomedical equipment technician and how industry uses and manages biomeds of all capabilities.
Any organization that deals with and treats patients does so through medical equipment that needs repair and maintenance to function properly. Maintenance Repair Organizations, or MRO’s, provide organizations, such as hospitals and medical practices, with the technical skill and expertise needed to insure that all medical equipment is meeting or exceeding the manufacturer’s specifications at all times. A few MRO categories are manufacture’s service shops, commercial, in-house, shared service, in-house contractor, part time shops, and single technician departments. The technical capabilities an MRO will offer are divided into three levels called organizational, intermediate, and depot.
The Organizational (O)-level is the most general and basic and will provide the least amount of technical skill. At this level it can be determined whether an operator error occurred or the equipment is actually faulty. Often the finding is an operator error and no fault exists. In this case the bio-med can document “could not duplicate error” in the log book so as to not lay all the blame directly on the operator. An (O)-level shop can perform module substitution to bring equipment online while the defective equipment is being repaired. Many (O)-level tasks are minor technical tasks that can be completed by nurses and paraprofessionals such as stylus battery replacement. Also they can serve as an inventory control point for management to monitor equipment that was referred to higher level shops and keep records that pertain to equipment maintenance histories. This level of capability is most often found in in-house MRO’s.
The intermediate (I)-level will be capable of all (O)-level repair capabilities and more. Electronics and mechanical technicians, biomedical equipment technicians, or even graduate professional engineers may be employed at (I)-level shops. (I)-level capabilities include testing medical equipment to verify that the performance meets or exceeds specifications and safety standards, troubleshooting only to the sub-assembly level, and adjusting, aligning, or harmonizing internal controls that are not normally available to the operator.
The depot (D)-level is the highest level of repair activity. Graduating the biomedical equipment technology program at TSTC will insure a person of (D)-level capabilities. (D)-level shops are manufacturer’s service departments or any shop that works on piece-part or component level. When (I)-level shops find faulty sub-assemblies, they will replace the faulty sub-assembly with a spare from inventory while they send the faulty sub-assembly to a (D)-level shop to be repaired. The (D) level shop will then find the faulty component and repair it so that the sub-assembly is functioning properly again.
Many types of MRO’s will provide one or all three levels of capabilities. It is extremely important for managers and administrators of the organization to consider factors such as cost, reliability, repair time, and the level of capability needed so that the MRO efficiently meets their unique needs. For instance, a hospital with fifty beds does not need to pay fifteen biomeds when only a few are needed. In other words, if all factors are not considered when selecting an MRO, it will most likely cause more problems for an organization than it solves.
A manufacturer’s service department will provide the best service but will generally be the most costly. The equipment that is sent to the manufacturer’s service shop is produced by that company, so they should have the most extensive knowledge about it. However, the manufacturer’s...