By K. Richard Douglas
Hospitals are rightly honored to be recognized for top billing in various specialties by independent, third-party reviewers. It is an achievement that often reflects on internal policies and procedures that result in great metrics along with good physicians and clinical staff.
The extra effort ends up catching the attention of national publications.
The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center is one of those recognition recipients. This year, U.S. News and World Reports awarded the institution with elite status.
According to the medical center’s website; “UCSF ranked seventh on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll and among the nation’s leading medical centers in all 15 specialties for which it was assessed.”
The medical center is a part of the University of California San Francisco, one of the country’s top universities.
“UCSF has more than 20 locations throughout San Francisco and beyond. The original location, Parnassus Heights, is made up of a tight network of buildings covering almost six blocks and serves as headquarters for UCSF leaders. Mission Bay is a teaching, research and clinical care facility with a daily population of about 3,500 UCSF faculty, staff and students,” says Eric Smith, the medical center’s medical imaging shop supervisor.
He says that the UCSF Mount Zion campus is its western addition hub of specialized medical center clinics and surgery services.
“We just opened our fourth major campus; UCSF Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building (PCMB). This 170,000 square foot cancer hospital contains 120 rooms for exams and consultations, 47 infusion bays for chemotherapy and 19 types of imaging services. PCMB is expected to see over 700 patients a day this fall,” Smith says.
“Clinical technologies at UCSF is responsible for the diagnostic imaging throughout the facilities, leaving the research to our OEM partners. Currently, we manage and repair over 300 pieces of imaging equipment from portables and C-arms to CTs and MRIs. This does not include the 320-plus ultrasounds we service in-house,” Smith adds.
There is only one device that the team does not service.
“We have an MRI/PET scanner that was the first one ever installed in the country and is used at one of our sites. We do not service this piece due to the research studies being done on this new technology,” Smith says.
The specialized imaging team at UCSF hasn’t been around for very long.
“The imaging team component of clinical technologies is a fairly new entity. Imaging now has its own cost center and budget and is a completely integrated service delivery shop within clinical technologies’ BES organization. The imaging team has over 110 years of combined imaging experience. Currently we have six engineers/technicians and are hiring an administrative assistant. Our director, Ramana Sastry, has been with UCSF for over 11 years and had the vision of expanding services at UCSF to be more patient sensitive and customer-centric,” Smith says.
Smith, himself, is credited with helping the team make great strides in bringing the program to fruition. He says that they are currently focused on building a successful imaging program.
“Clinical technologies has just recently taken on the role of servicing and managing UCSF’s imaging equipment. Our program is almost a year old at this time,” he says.
The team provides service to all ultrasounds, diagnostic imaging (Rad, R/F, CV, IR), CT scanners, MRI systems, and PET scanners.
Training comes partly through manufacturers and partly through other outside sources.
“We are able to take advantage of the OEM’s training for in-house engineers and have a substantial training budget. We have also engaged strategic third-party vendors to assist with some of our training and service needs,” Smith says.
The team has a say in the capital purchase process.
“The imaging shop and clinical technologies are involved directly and indirectly with the purchase and planning for radiology and cardiology. A portion of the capital equipment spend for diagnostic imaging goes though clinical technologies, so we have a lot of input into the planning and purchasing processes,” Smith says.
He says that they do not purchase point of sale contracts at the time of purchase as a general rule; those decisions are reserved for another time to be evaluated and studied separately with the key players.
“Our capital spend is for the equipment and the servicing expense comes out of clinical technologies operations budget. We are able to negotiate training classes and lock in pricing at the time of the sale. This helps us plan the transition of the equipment service life from warranty to in-house PM and repair,” Smith says.
The imaging service group has shown its worth in several ways and has been involved in projects to benefit its facilities.
“Our imaging team, in conjunction with our cybersecurity team, has been involved with the networking of wired and wireless technologies within the hospital groups. Clinical technologies has a cybersecurity officer that interfaces between clinical technologies and the IT team within the hospital to improve the safety and security of our networks. The imaging team has been beneficial in helping to secure those networks,” Smith says.
The imaging service group has also taken steps to acquaint the clinical staff with the benefits of bringing servicing in-house.
“My imaging team has made significant progress in developing the ‘buy-in’ by the end users and technologists to see the advantages of going in-house at UCSF. The dedication and desire of the imaging team to work around schedules, being available 24/7 and scheduling work on the weekends as necessary, have really helped us to convince the end-user staff that we are here for them every step of the way,” Smith says.
He says that the team’s customers are now finding out that they can problem solve and repair equipment faster than the OEMs and that their insight into the use and care of the different modalities has shown its merit in including clinical technologies in conversations.
“We are proud to be such an integral part of patient care at UCSF,” Smith says.