BLOG: Training and Vendor Support Key to Successful Device Upgrade
Transitioning to a new device vendor can provide improvements to outdated technology and workflow. It also requires a commitment to onboarding and training the technologists to properly operate any new device. To effectively do so, it is critical that the vendor specialist onboarding the system is up to speed on all imaging technologies and able to support the customer’s technologists through the transition.
“Being a registered technologist in radiography (RTR) is a job requirement,” said Bracco device application specialist Bill Stevens, who routinely helps customers upgrading to a new injector system. “Every member of our device application specialist (DAS) team is an RTR and all of us have advanced modality training. It is critical that we know and can communicate an intimate working knowledge of imaging principles.”
When new installations are ordered, the DAS team at Bracco matches a specialist with the installation based on specialty, learning style and industry awareness. This approach was helpful at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, S.C., which just recently transitioned to the Bracco EmpowerCTA+ Injector System.
“Whenever you have a change in technology, especially from one vendor to another, it’s important to have a strong presence from the company, to alleviate any stress pressure or concerns the staff may have,” said Matthew Hurtt, advanced imaging manager at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. “It’s doubly helpful when you have a trainer who is personable, friendly, knows the product, is familiar with the other products, so he can help with the translation of terms from how one manufacturer does it to how another manufacturer does it.”
When Bracco onboards a new customer to an injector system, the DAS first provides educational materials to familiarize the new customer with the device and its operation. Then, during an onsite visit, the specialist installs the injector and conducts training sessions for technologists and staff. This first training session is often the technologists first interaction with a new system, in an experience Bracco DAS Charles Thompson calls “button-ology.”
“Button-ology is teaching how I turn it on, how I turn it off, how it is loaded, and how to start and stop,” Thompson said. This is an important step because different vendors may have different workflow processes. The general functionality may be the same, but different specifics of loading the injector or building the protocols may change.
“The Bracco team was great because they are familiar with the other manufacturers products,” Hurtt said. “When they translated it in to their language and their workflow it was very simple.”
Following this preliminary session about basic operation, additional training sessions focus on clinical use, such as contrast management and diagnostic and image quality enhancement.
“Then we can go into the clinical aspect of it, actually using the injector on patients, and making sure that we get the images to look like they're supposed to look,” Thompson said. The process is methodical, logical and thorough to ensure customer comfort, aptitude and confidence with the devices.
Each customer installation is unique and requires a different customer experience depending on the system and modality, and Stevens stressed the importance of understanding the training needs of the technologists who will use the system. Training multiple technologists can be a challenge, as their aptitude, experience and confidence can vary. Recognizing these differences helps to ensure that all technologists reach the same ability and are trained to standard.
“One technique I employ is to give the customer instruction on what I would like them to perform with the injector and not how to do so,” Stevens said. “I watch carefully and point out immediately that they were able to determine the how. This reinforces their self-reliance.”
By interacting with customers around the country, the DAS team is continuously building their experience and staying current on industry best practices that can benefit all their customers.
“A very big part of our job is our clinical knowledge, and being able to understand what they're actually doing and why,” Thompson said. “And then putting it in terms that another site can understand and actually utilize, not only then, but when we leave.”
After the installation, the DAS team stays in contact to ensure that the new customer is comfortable and successful in using their new injector system. Ongoing training is provided for any system upgrades, and educational support is available to onboard any new staff.
“Their sales team has been super responsive following the installs. Almost daily communications to make sure the staff is happy, that we have everything we need,” Hurtt said. “From a manager’s point, it’s nice when you can make one phone call and things just happen, and that’s the level of support that Bracco gives us.”
Editor’s note: This blog is part two of a two-part series on service and support. The first BLOG: Reliability and Customer Service Key to Injector Uptime and CT Department Workflow, can be found here.