Washington Hospital Employee Honored for Leadership in Healthcare Technology Management
Since he was a boy, Fremont resident Paul Kelley has always wanted to work in health care. But, instead of becoming the doctor he thought he might be, he ended up in a vocation that helps provide quality health care in a far different way.
As the director of Biomedical Engineering at Washington Hospital in Fremont, Kelley heads a department of four, managing equipment used to monitor, diagnose and treat patients. This vital function is critically important to the safe and effective operation of a hospital. Yet, it occurs behind the scenes, with most patients, families and community members unaware that it exists. Kelley also heads Washington Hospital's Green Team, which helps to implement new and innovative ways to improve environmental performance through conservation, purchasing, reduction, re-use and recycling programs.
"The work I do is extremely rewarding and I'm very passionate about it," said Kelley, who has been in biomedical engineering for 34 years and at Washington Hospital since 1998. "Having the right equipment used in a proper and safe way is paramount to good patient care."
Recently, Kelley was honored by the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE), the only internationally recognized professional society for clinical engineers, for his leadership and dedication in the field of clinical biomedical engineering technology.
"As clinical medicine has become increasingly dependent on more sophisticated technologies and the complex equipment associated with it, the clinical engineer, as the name implies, has become the bridge between modern medicine and equally modern engineering," ACCE states on its Web site.
Kelley is one of two winners nationwide to receive the organization's Professional Achievement in Management/Managerial Excellence Award for 2013. He will accept the award at the national conference of the Association for Advanced Medical Instrumentation in Long Beach, Calif., on June 2.
"I was completely surprised and extremely honored when the call came about the award," commented Kelley. "I think it is a reflection of the work I'm doing in support of the overall field of healthcare technology management."
Born and raised in nearby Benicia, Kelley earned an AA degree in biomedical engineering from Napa College. He became interested in the biotechnology field on the recommendation of a career counselor whose advice he sought after realizing that being a doctor was not what he wanted for his life's work.
"It was the best advice I ever got," he recalled.
Most people think biotechnology is all about research, but today it involves much more, Kelley explained. The field was first promoted in the early 1970s by activist Ralph Nader, who is well known for his work in consumer protection and environmentalism.
Over the years, the biotechnology field splintered to include biomedical engineering and clinical engineering, which focuses on the use of technology in health care. Recently, these two fields have come to be known as healthcare technology management (HTM).
At Washington Hospital, Kelley and his staff work with technology from start to finish, helping to select, maintain, calibrate, test, repair and finally retire many types of equipment.
"Our goal is to make the equipment work properly and safely, with safety being the key component," stated Kelley. "We are concerned with the safety of patients, staff and visitors."
With increased use of computers in health care and the advent of the electronic medical record (EMR), working with information technology (IT) staff has become a greater focus.
"A medical device used to be simply a box that was built for a specific purpose, but that changed with the development of software," Kelley observed. "Now these devices often need to be able to communicate with a patient's computerized EMR."
For example, Washington Hospital's Biomedical Engineering staff recently installed monitors in the Critical Care area of the hospital that are designed to communicate with the EMR. Once installation was complete, they began testing the interface to make sure the data being gathered at the bedside is being accurately mapped into the patient's record. When all testing is successful, the system will go live.
"In my department, we don't write the interfaces, but we help facilitate the process and the exporting of the information," Kelley elaborated.
The continuous evolution of technology in health care has made it necessary for biomedical engineers like Kelley to constantly update their education and training.
"When I started, it was in the days before the use of PCs in health care, and I was installing vacuum tubes in medical equipment," he relates. "Being involved in the evolution of vital health care technology and watching it grow at Washington Hospital continues to be an exciting trip."
To find out more about Washington Hospital, go to www.whhs.com. To learn more about the field of healthcare technology management, visit the Web site of the ACCE at www.accenet.org.