Mastering the Craft: Anthony Phoenix’s Journey to HTM Excellence

Reflecting on the characteristics of an effective leader, author and business consultant, Ken Blanchard, says, “In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” Anthony Phoenix is out to prove that good leadership starts with good training and caring about the end result. 

Anthony Phoenix is the Director of Biomedical Engineering (HTM) at Eskenazi Health, in Marion County, Indiana. He’s one of the many leaders within the hospital system who seeks to first be of service to the people. The hospital’s mission is to advocate, teach, and serve the most vulnerable patients within Marion County and across Indiana.

Anthony is responsible for the overall leadership of the biomedical department including compliance with overall regulatory standards from the State Department of Health and The Joint Commission. He also oversees fiscal leadership of the department, ensuring staff have everything they need to fulfill their daily mission including capital planning for new technology or equipment that needs to be replaced.

An Early Transition to Biomedical Engineering

When asked how Anthony became interested in biomedical engineering, he says it was a job shadow experience in college that completely shifted his career perspective. Here’s how it all began.

“Interestingly enough, as a young college student, I was in the business management program at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. I was introduced to biomedical engineering at a career fair where I met someone who ran the Biomed program at a partner university in downtown Indianapolis. I signed up for a job shadow event where I went to a local hospital and shadowed a biomedical technician for the day.”

When asked what made him believe that a career in biomedical engineering would be his future, Anthony says, “It was primarily going around the hospital working on medical equipment that my mentor introduced me to.” 

Anthony was drawn to the troubleshooting aspects of the field which included becoming familiar with a piece of equipment, learning about how it worked, and reading the service manual and the documentation to help him troubleshoot the problem. Anthony’s curiosity was piqued by the opportunity to take the equipment apart, find the bad component, and then put the new component in. 

Anthony says, “I just remember that feeling. It was cool! The equipment was broken, then I got to show up and do my thing. The equipment gets fixed and it’s ready for patient care. Every single day was a series of little wins.” 

At this point, Anthony decided that it was in his best interest to switch majors and completed an associate’s degree in biomedical engineering technology before getting his first job in the field.

“As an entry-level biomed technician in 2002 (at what was then called Wishard Hospital), I was introduced to a lot of different pieces of medical equipment. I did continue my education while working full-time and finished my bachelor’s degree. I got opportunities to attend vendor training on different pieces of equipment.”

Anthony did leave the biomed field for about two years where he worked for a pharmaceutical company doing analytical chromatography and equipment service and maintenance. It was similar work with chemistry and research chromatography equipment. 

He returned to healthcare as an imaging service engineer around 2010. This involved working on X-ray equipment, mobile fluoroscopy equipment, etc. As his experience grew, he moved into servicing and maintaining nuclear medicine equipment in 2019.

Training is the Foundation for Health Tech Leadership

Anthony appreciates the amount of on-the-job training he has received throughout his health tech career. Wishard Hospital (now called Eskenazi Health) sent him to Ohio to complete four phases of training at the Radiological Service Training Institute (RSTI) to maintain imaging equipment. It is this experience that led to the development of his interest in a health tech leadership role. He’d train for one to two weeks at a time, then come back to Indiana to work. This year-long experience offered him a solid foundation in learning X-ray imaging equipment. 

Anthony went on to tackle the role of biomed technicians I, II, and III. And he was ready to take on more responsibility. After a conversation with his director, he was placed in leadership development classes for a year to help prepare him for a role as a department manager. He learned how to think as a leader. When the manager opportunity became available, he was promoted in early 2020.

Anthony compares his transition into management to being a firefighter. “On most days all I did was put fires out. Whenever clinical teams needed support from the biomedical engineering department, they would put out an urgent request to the manager.” 

Anthony worked closely with the Hugs Infant Security System in the Family Beginnings Unit. A ‘big fire’ would involve fixing the networking issue that ensured the security tags on the infants were working properly. When the network was down, it meant that the hospital doors did not lock properly. The manager had to assess the situation and decide if it was something he could fix or if it needed to be escalated to the vendor. 

Aside from putting out fires, Anthony was responsible for staff development and ensuring staff had the right training for the responsibilities they were assigned. He took on regulatory and hazard recall. 

“Notifications. The managers were responsible for identifying if an equipment recall affected the department. I’d have to find out if that piece of equipment was on our inventory list. If yes, what kind of remediation steps do we need to take? Do we need to pull the equipment? Or can the equipment stay in use, and just respond to those hazards and recalls from the manufacturers?”

The Road to Director of Biomedical Engineering

Anthony Phoenix is a demonstration of dedication and leadership to his work. He does much more than ensure that the equipment is in working order. Anthony seeks to ensure that his team understands the critical role they play in ensuring that even the most vulnerable patients get access to the very best of care.

The hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer recognized the leadership ability in Anthony and knew he would be perfect for the role of interim director of biomedical engineering in early 2021. He became the official director a few months later. The first order of business as Director was to update the network security tool.

“Shortly after accepting the Director position, one of my first major initiatives was to update our network security tool. In early 2022, we transitioned from Medigate to the Asimily risk management software platform.  This change enabled us to have full visibility of our medical devices that are connected to the network and manage the vulnerabilities associated with them. Asimily allows us to identify potential incidents and take targeted actions based on the associated Risk score.  With Asimily, we are reducing our overall cybersecurity risk.”

When asked about how his training and development led to his success as the leader of a biomedical engineering department, Anthony has this to say, “My team is the most important resource that I have. I make sure to invest in my team, ensuring that they have the tools, training, and education necessary to perform their jobs. I was afforded those kinds of opportunities as a technician and those are opportunities that I continue to give to my staff now that I’m a director.”

Anthony goes on to talk about how proud he is of the work his team did during the pandemic. “Biomedical equipment technicians, although we are not direct patient caregivers, do have a direct impact on the quality of care that a patient receives. And we had to come to work every day because we couldn’t do our job remotely. When equipment was not working, it just compounded the stress. 

We tried to keep a positive attitude. We did our best to handle all of the service calls on a daily basis for over a year. You know, working in a hospital, we were right in line to be affected by COVID ourselves. We had multiple staff that were out for a few weeks. Then they’d get better and come right back to work. I think that showed the team’s dedication to what we do to support our patients to ensure that as an organization, we can provide the best care possible to our patients.”

And we at Asimily are proud to support hardworking HTM heroes like Anthony Phoenix who are dedicated to ensuring that their entire staff is well supported and able to meet the mission of community hospitals like Eskenazi Health.

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