The AF Solutions business within Medtronic(NYSE:MDT) is a small one and its field clinical engineers are responsible for flying across the country any time a product is being used in a hospital in conjunction with a clinical trial.
The division, formed with the acquisition of Ablation Frontiers and CryoCath Technologies, is now part of the broader CardioVascular group. Its current team of four clinical engineers is managed by Troy Bertram, who is himself a field clinical engineer. Either he or a member of his team needs to be present at all clinical trial sites during a surgery or procedure where Medtronic’s AF Solutions products are being used.
For roughly a year, Bertram has been using a cloud-based software product called When I Work, developed by Minnesota entrepreneur Chad Halvorson, whose company thisCLICKS has found some success with another software meant for the medical technology sales – App Data Room.
“When I Work” is a scheduling software that allows team leaders like Bertram manage a group of people who need to be scheduled to be somewhere in any given week. Now, with When I Work, when Bertram adds a new “case” where the field clinical engineers need to be an automatic text or email is sent to the other clinical engineers or the team telling them either that they have been assigned to a case or that a new case has been added to an open shift that any one of them can pick up to cover.
It is a welcome departure from Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar which lacks the mobile capability in the form of a iphone or Android lthat Bertram was looking for.
“What I like about is, is the ability to schedule these cases remotely,” Bertram said in a recent interview. “I am out in the field just as much as they were. Whenever we have a clinical coordinator from a hospital that is involved in a clinical study emails me or calls me to say that we have a case next week, I can just use the mobile app on my iPhone and just plug in that case and then publish that case and let everybody know about it.”
Aside from the people that are logging onto the software either from their computers or mobile devices, there are others who need to know where the field clinical engineers are going to be in any given day.
“When I Work” has the functionality by which Bertram can simply send a link to other Medtronic employees – it could be sales people who have relationships with a certain hospital – that allows them to see what cases are scheduled there and which field clinical engineer will be present on site.
“There are about 50 people within Medtronic who have to have visibility into the schedule,” Bertram said. “I can send a link just for a certain account and they can see the schedule of that account. I don’t give them edit rights or anything like that.”
As AF Solutions gears up to managing three clinical studies, up from two, Bertram expects to train eight more people as field clinical engineers who now will also be users of “When I Work.” Other departments like the Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management, Medtronic’s largest business has also begun to show interest.
“They currently use Google Calendar right now,” Bertram said.
Chad Halvorson, CEO of thisCLICKS, that developed When I Work” said that the software is paid for monthly at the rate of $1 per user per person with lower pricing as higher volumes of users begin using it.
He added that the software has a better user interface than that of Outlook Calendar and also has the communications component via text messaging and email that Outlook lacks. Yet “When I Work” can also be synched with Outlook Calendar. Halvorson added that the product is a boon not just for larger businesses like Medtronic but smaller med tech companies managing clinical trials.
Bertram couldn’t agree more.
“I would have loved to have this when I worked at Endocardial Solutions (later acquired by St. Jude Medical),” he declared. “We could have probably replaced two of the people who were doing nothing but managing the schedules of people.
[Photo Credit: Juggling Time from Big Stock Photos]