Online technology support companies can offer round-the-clock support and troubleshooting on medical devices, like mechanical ventilators.
By Cassandra Perez
Managing critical care ventilators is no simple task, which is why some ventilation manufacturers contract online technology companies that offer round-the-clock support and troubleshooting for respiratory therapists. Penny Andrews, RN, BSN, chief operations officer for Intensive Care On-line Network (ICON), spoke with RT about the ICON service, which provides all Dräger ventilation customers with access to online continuing education and real-time support.
What is ICON and what does your company offers to healthcare professionals?
Intensive Care On-line Network (ICON), established in 2001, provides 24/7 support to healthcare providers using various medical devices including mechanical ventilators, neonatal warming therapy equipment, continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT), therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) and ultrafiltration machines and the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS). Through a 24/7 call center dedicated to healthcare professionals, ICON can assist with questions regarding the basic functions of these devices, troubleshooting alarms or issues during therapy, or discuss approaches to therapy, which may improve the user-device experience and thereby reduce the risk of sentinel events from use error with medical devices. Additionally, ICON provides continuing education that is Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) compliant through a dedicated website with self-paced competency modules, and archived or live monthly webinars like a week-long series through Respiratory Care Week.
How are your company’s services different from what a typical ventilator manufacturer can offer?
ICON provides real-time assistance to enhance contextual learning through a dedicated 24/7, 365 call center that is staffed with critical care respiratory therapists, nurses, intensivists, critical care PharmD, bio-medical engineers and technical specialists. For assistance with troubleshooting alarms or implementation of therapy, ICON’s call center has all of the supported devices at hand, which provides virtual assistance where scenarios can be reproduced during the call. We have an internal knowledge base that is continually mined with each call to update information.
In regards to support calls and inquiries, what are the typical questions asked by clinicians and respiratory therapists?
Healthcare professionals receive initial in servicing with medical devices from the manufacturer’s representative. However, covering all of the features, potential alarms and therapy implementation with complex medical devices can be overwhelming. Therefore, clinicians and respiratory therapists may call about an alarm that they have not previously experienced or one that will not resolve with troubleshooting steps already taken, review activating criteria for alarms or receive guidance with therapy implementation or an unfamiliar feature. In addition, they may pursue an educational question to gain a deeper understanding of device operation or discuss the latest literature on a relevant topic.
How does your service and the company’s support teams improve clinician workflow and patient outcomes?
By providing 24/7 access to real-time support, many clinicians state they are thankful for such a valuable resource especially on weekends, holidays and through the night. Additionally, we have developed an Administrative Dashboard for managers, supervisors, and educators to streamline continuing education. Through this dashboard, administrators can create groups and assignments to view clinical documents, modules or archived webinars and monitor staff’s progress. This is especially helpful with the integration of a new device, staff training or for recurring competency marathons to ensure the competence level of healthcare professionals using the supported devices. ICON’s continuing education is accredited through the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), California Board of Nursing, and American Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
What subjects do your company’s educational tools and clinical resources cover? How can clinicians access them?
ICON covers up-to-date topics on mechanical ventilation, CRRT, TPE and ultrafiltration. Through monthly live webinars and archived continuing education, we survey participants for their suggestions on future topics. A unique feature of the monthly webinars is that participants can call in at any time after the webinar if they are using a topic discussed to have live dialogue regarding that topic. Continuing education is accessed through a Member’s Only portal on the ICON website.
Does your company have any plans for growth and expansion in the future, such as supporting additional brands of ventilation devices or providing support to additional countries?
ICON continues to expand both internally within the companies currently supporting by adding on additional products and is available to acquire new partners in the healthcare industry. ICON currently supports healthcare professionals across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Scotland. ICON is currently undergoing the next steps for implementing support to other international customers.
In the future, do you believe other ventilation companies will adopt a similar type of model and contract a service like ICON?
Possibly, but this does require significant corporate dedication to the customer with a perspective on providing the highest level of customer support and service. Corporate field representatives assigned to healthcare institutions often struggle with time management and ICON’s dedicated 24/7 call center can provide their customer with an elite level of customer support. Over our 15 years of experience, it has become clear that clinicians need a full spectrum of support in real-time that requires a dynamic, multi-professional staff available 24/7/365. RT
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