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New Medical Devices: Training Should Never Be an Afterthought

By Angie Harville, National Accounts Director, Medical Technologies, HealthStream 

If you’re not familiar with the ECRI Institute, you should be.  For more than 45 years, ECRI has been using applied scientific research to determine which procedures, medical devices and technology, pharmaceuticals, and processes to help you improve patient care and outcomes.  ECRI is a non-profit organization designated as an Evidence-Based Practice Center by the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and listed as a federal Patient Safety Organization by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  While this alone is reason to trust ECRI’s findings, it is important to note ECRI does not accept advertising dollars from any source and employees are not allowed to own stock in any medical device or pharmaceutical company.  

In April of 2010, ECRI released a training article regarding best practice for medical device safety training titled, “Instructions Included?  Make Safety Training Part of Medical Device Procurement Process.”  It includes the following key takeaways: 

  • When budgeting for devices/technology, include training in the budget
  • As a starting point, focus on high-risk devices
  • Do not cut training out of the procurement budget so you can afford to buy the technology
  • Understand the operational needs for the technology and include additional staffing needs in the budget
  • Ensure a complete understanding of the credentialing required by your staff to use the technology
  • Plan for the cost of ongoing training in your budget because reducing liability begins with education
  • Purchasing professionals play a key role in planning for the costs of appropriate and adequate user training during the early stages of the procurement process

In closing, HealthStream believes training should never be an afterthought because there is a greater possibility that staff will not admit they do not know how to use the device; a greater likelihood they will avoid using more complex devices; and increased risk for the patient and the facility.  

There is no better time to ask medical device and pharmaceuticals companies to partner with HealthStream to provide you with consistent, readily available training on your education and training platform of choice – HealthStream’s Learning Center.  When you’re asked to send your staff to multiple websites or to use a CD or DVD, “just say no.”  Let the manufacturers know you require training through HealthStream because it is your centralized location for managing, tracking, and reporting all education and training for your facility.  Additionally, it is a proven best practice to provide access to online product training two to three weeks prior to the live In-Service.  Staff show up with an understanding of the product, have better questions, and get to the hands-on component more quickly.  

Article: Keller, James P., ECRI Institute, “Instructions Included? Make Safety Training Part of Medical Device Procurement Process,” Materials Management in Health Care (April 2010).

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