The Biomedical Technician (BMET) field will grow by roughly 30% by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; a fact that’s openly promoted to young engineers in videos (like this one) from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). And rightly so, the healthcare industry is seeing rapid growth in new technology and—with a growth in the aging U.S. population—more demand for engineers to manage that technology.
Probably the two big issues most graduates think about with regards to entering into a profession (personal passions aside) are job opportunities within that field and the potential for career advancement. To put it another way, what you don’t want to hear is that your field is becoming irrelevant and there aren’t that many openings. That certainly isn’t the case in the Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) field, so why does it sometimes seem like there is a lot of doom and gloom out there when we read about HTM? There’s certainly some “perception and reality” going on here, that’s undeniable. Recent graduates (engineering or otherwise) enter into the job market with some wide-eyed idealism—that’s kind of what they do. It’s only after a few years in the real world that they get that hard-bitten cynical outlook, right?
“Prepare for the Future — Its [sic] Only Going to Get Worse.” That’s the title of a TechNation article by Patrick K. Lynch, a Biomedical Support Specialist for GMI. Right off the bat he asks the questions, “Is your job secure? Is it as secure as it was five years ago?” Healthcare is changing says Lynch, “Administration always tells us that things are wonderful, until that time that they announce that the management of the department has been turned over to ACME Biomedical.”
Lynch certainly isn’t one of those wide-eyed grads. He’s worked exclusively in healthcare since 1975, has managed clinical engineering and biomedical departments since 1979, and is seen as a thought leader by many in the field. Given that kind of tenure in the basement departments of HTM, he isn’t that cynical either. In fact, the whole thrust of the piece is about being prepared for change—sound advice for anyone.
“I am shocked by the frequency that I visit what are obviously high-performing HTM departments to find they cannot drill down into their inventory to create reports, charts, spreadsheets, etc., related to individual equipment failures, cost and uptime,” writes Lynch. “They cannot know if they are truly better or worse than their neighbors across town or in the next country.” Preach on Mr. Lynch! Preach on TechNation! We couldn’t agree more.
Consider Lynch’s article as a warning, a wake up call to those HTM laggards, because if an HTM department doesn’t evolve from a break/fix department, they had better start dusting off those resumes. A giant meteor is coming for the dinosaurs and its name is outsourcing. So what’s the solution?
If one thinks of Lynch’s TechNation article as “HTM-101” on how to cover your butt and better utilize your CMMS, there’s a “200-level” roundtable discussion on CMMS software that appears in the publication’s recent March edition, wherein the question is raised, “What should HTM professionals look for when purchasing CMMS software?” Alan Gresch, Vice President of Client Success at Mainspring Healthcare Solutions answers that question with a long list of his own:
“Great HTM departments need to think beyond just the PM/break-fix function (any CMMS can do that) and determine what other ways they can bring value to their organization. Can their CMMS help take them to that next level? Can they provide mechanisms to reduce expenses, increase staff efficiencies, and improve customer service like parts management, dispatch functions and customer surveying capability? Does it have an extremely robust reporting tool to create good management dashboards, provide for internal and external benchmarking, and support optimum compliance with TJC and CMS regulations? Does it have auditing capabilities to insure ongoing data integrity? With all the hospital consolidation and acquisitions, can it support a true enterprise application?”
Those are the kinds of questions a leader asks. Great HTM departments are focused on delivering more value to the organization. They’re using automation to simplify data capture and quality assurance, and they’re using that data to influence decision-making—streamlining operations, cutting costs, delivering higher levels of service, kicking butt and taking names. You can look at the future of HTM as having this kind of thought-leadership role within the hospital organization, or you can look at the profession as having a constant target on its back and relegated to the basement. You can look at your CMMS as a tool for butt coverage, or as a tool of empowerment to drive continual improvement. You can be part of the solution that transforms hospital operations, or you can be outsourced, the future is yours.