More than 110 years ago, a hospital was born in downtown Los Angeles in a two-story house. Founded by the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Southern California Conference of the Methodist Church, the little hospital grew. The society secured a former mayor’s residence in 1909 and equipped it with 18 patient beds. A 100-bed facility replaced this structure in 1915 at a cost of $500,000.
The hospital later relocated to a campus at the Arcadia Civic Center. It has served the community in the San Gabriel Valley since 1957. Today, the Methodist Hospital of Southern California is a modern 520-bed hospital with an outpatient surgery center, neonatal intensive care unit, physical rehab facilities and is a Los Angeles County-certified stroke center.
The nine-member Methodist Hospital of Southern California Biomedical Engineering Department, managed by Renovo Solutions LLC, handles all the modalities found throughout the hospital, including network systems. Renovo has managed the department since November of 2010. The department is responsible for Methodist Hospital and two outpatient facilities, including more than 6,000 pieces of medical equipment.
The department is managed by Account Manager Anthony J. Coronado, BS. Other team members include Supervisor Michael Cabrera; Radiology Specialist Debash Gupta, CBET, CRES; IT Integration Specialist Joseph Diaz, BS, CCENT; Anesthesia Specialist Blaze Molas, CBET; Biomed Tech II Gabriel Luque, BS; Biomed Tech II Daniel Ponce; Biomed Tech I Mark Guzman and Biomed Tech I Edward Lopez Jr.
The team has made it their mission to solve any problems that are presented to them.
“The goal of any clinical engineering department is to be the ultimate problem solvers,” Coronado says. “What our team has done; we have identified all the problems with our medical devices by providing a strict risk assessment. Our mitigation plans have provided the problem solving. If it’s upgrading the operating system on a PC interfaced with a medical device or disabling a USB port, we problem solve.”
The Methodist Hospital of Southern California Biomedical Engineering Department has been particularly proactive in protecting their networked devices from cybersecurity threats.
“With our Integrated Systems Management Program, we provide services in risk management, systems management, project management and asset management,” Coronado says.
The department manages all service contracts that are proposed to their facility. When equipment comes off of warranty, it is flagged in their clinical engineering database and is added to the Clinical Engineering Service Agreement with Renovo Solutions.
“Based off of the service history and trended information during the warranty period, Clinical Engineering will establish a sub-agreement with either the manufacturer, an independent service organization or service the unit with our in-house staff,” Coronado says. “All service is managed and documented by the clinical engineering staff and service events are scanned into the clinical engineering database, RenovoLive.”
Service contracts are reviewed on an annual basis to determine if the service organization has met their contractual obligations. The department meets with vendors and reviews the contractual relationship during the renewal period.
“All equipment is trended for down time, failure rate, abuse, operator error and financial liability,” Coronado says
The Methodist Hospital of Southern California Biomedical Engineering Department instituted a Integrated Systems Management (ISM) Program, with resources from Renovo, to help mitigate risk with the integration of medical devices onto the hospital’s network. The team took extra steps to assess each device that would be integrated into their system by reviewing how it met HIPAA regulations. They also utilized NIST Special Publications 800-30 and 800-66 and developed a system assessment form.
The department uses proprietary software to flag special case scenarios from data collected through service events. Monthly reports convey this information to the hospital’s safety committee.
“The data also allows us to establish a Performance Improvement Program based on the trends from our data collection,” Coronado says. “Our department is always trying to improve our program and patient safety. In addition to service events, our team does something unique to the clinical engineering field in regards to privacy and cybersecurity. Any medical device that stores or transmits electronic patient information goes through a 57-question risk assessment that details any vulnerabilities to cybersecurity or HIPAA violations.”
Coronado says that the answers are then uploaded into a database which generates a risk score. A mitigation plan is generated to address the vulnerabilities.
“We continue to manage our equipment throughout its service life. This initiative allowed our team to be the first clinical engineering team to win the ECRI Institutes’ Health Devices Achievement Award in 2013,” he says. “Our department has recognized that medical equipment technology has changed in the past 10 years and we developed a program to meet that change and protect our patients in all areas.”
Pioneers in merging many elements of IT and biomed, the biomedical engineering department takes a forward-looking approach that reflects the realities of current day medical equipment integration.
“We have brought this integration to another level; actually we changed the culture within Methodist Hospital,” Coronado explains.
“Our ISM program bridged the gap between CE and IT,” he adds. “Our IT Integration Specialist works within the IT Department and also serves as a project manager for any medical device network activities. The two departments meet on a monthly basis to review any findings with our Cybersecurity Program or any new activities. Our CE database communicates with the IT network or domain on a real time basis through our client’s service module. I believe our program is the program of the future.”
Extending their Reach
Remaining involved in the HTM community, even away from their workplace, is something team associates are engaged in also.
The members participate in California Medical Instrumentation Association (CMIA) activities and Coronado is a part-time instructor for the bachelor’s program at the Southern California Institute of Technology. He teaches courses such as FDA regulations, biomedical imaging, biomechanics, medical instrumentation design and application, and anatomy. He has also been published in the AAMI Horizons magazine.
Patients at Methodist should feel extra assurance that, not only is the clinical engineering staff watching out for the medical equipment, but their personal information also.
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