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VOL. 127 | NO. 248 | Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cutting-Edge Road Show

Medtronic debuts Catalyst mobile education center


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Medtronic Inc. recently unveiled its new Catalyst mobile educational center, part of a small fleet of high-tech vehicles that the company uses to take hands-on training and education directly to spinal surgeons and other health care professionals across the country.

Medtronic Inc. has unveiled the Catalyst mobile educational center, which is fully equipped with cutting-edge procedural/anatomical labs and conference/flex areas.

(Photos Courtesy of Medtronic)

The new center is fully equipped with cutting-edge procedural/anatomical labs and conference/flex areas.

“In its first year of use we will train approximately 1,800 health care professionals in the Catalyst mobile education unit,” said Elizabeth Holdeman, Medtronic training education director, medical education. “What’s great about this set-up is that it allows us to take the training to them so we do not have to fly people from one location to another and pay for hotel rooms and other costs.”

The trucks hit the road for the first time in mid-October, and so far destinations have included Dallas, San Antonio, Las Vegas and New Orleans. Medtronic staff estimate the trucks will be on the road as much as 300 days each year. Their next stops for the Catalyst include stays in Colton and San Diego, Calif., as well as an eight-city, one-month trek through North Carolina.

“We will definitely tour most of the cities throughout the U.S.,” said Holdeman, who pointed out that the trucks usually will stay at a given location for two days but can stay longer for occasional weeklong events.

Eddie Robinson, Medtronic associate STC specialist of medical education, designed the new campus with help from Performance Marketing Group in Indianapolis.

“We took a 65-month build time, and we did it in 72 days,” Robinson said. “It’s great to see the response from a room full of surgeons who are all practicing and learning something.”

The campus consists of two 53-foot trucks with slide-out side sections on both sides to increase the interior space. The two trucks are linked together by a walkway.

The front 800-square-foot section is a multi-functional trailer with flex space, a private meeting room, restroom and four changing areas where doctors can prepare for lab work in the other section of the campus.

Medtronic Inc.’s Catalyst mobile educational center links two trucks to make one large “campus” that is half lab space and half conference/flex space.

“The front space can be used as a conference room, and we can also use it for dinners and webinars,” Robinson said.

The room’s state-of-the-art audio-visual system features one 60-inch flat-screen monitor as well as two 40-inch monitors that can be used for meetings and enable demonstrations taking place in the laboratory to be viewed in the conference areas.

The second trailer of the mobile campus houses the laboratory space, which showcases six workstations that can accommodate up to 40 to 60 surgeons at one time. The trucks are equipped with access to every Medtronic Spinal technology including implants, instrumentation such as the Medtronic Powerease powered surgical instruments, fluoroscopes, and surgical imaging and navigation systems such as the Medtronic StealthStation and O-ARM Systems, which create 360-degree X-ray images.

The workstations include test dummy models that are used for training in particular types of spinal surgeries.

“The models on the table are Trutrainers that were developed by an employee at Medtronic to simulate human tissue and bone,” Holdeman said.

Each workstation is radioluminescent and is equipped with an X-ray machine and a 32-inch flat screen monitor.

“Basically we want to duplicate what is in the OR,” Robinson said.

The faculty who teaches the courses is made up of surgeons that Medtronic contracts with.

Medtronic employs two experienced drivers to set up, break down and clean the campus, and Medical Education & Research Institute (MERI) supplies staff that travels with the campus and helps out with the labs.

“This is one of the things that Medtronic does so generously because there is not any medical school training like this,” said Elizabeth J. Ostric, MERI executive director.

The new trucks replace previous smaller versions of the mobile campuses that had been in use since 2001.

“Our older lab space measured 500 square feet, and this one is 1,000 square feet. One of the big things we did was also double the air conditioning, taking it from three tons to six tons,” said Robinson, who cited the intense heat of destinations like Las Vegas as a major reason for the upgrade.

In January Medtronic plans to debut two smaller independent units that will be used for “on-demand” needs. Those units will consist of only one 53-foot truck with one slide-out section and will fit into tighter areas to not take up as large of a footprint.

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