Over the many years, I have been responsible for running healthcare technology management (HTM) departments. I have tried to make a lot of changes, some successful and some not. One common theme is that change is always difficult for those impacted. Some acknowledge the difficulty and move on, doing their best do adapt. Others dig in their heels and fight the change as hard as possible. Right now, we are in a period of change in healthcare like none that I have ever seen. The change is rapid and comprehensive. No one is immune.
Naturally, some of the change affects HTM—the biggest and most impactful is its continuing convergence with information technology (IT). This convergence covers everything from individual devices to networked devices, from issues with integration to issues with privacy and security. At the very least, what is required for an HTM department to succeed today and in the future is for HTM professionals to not only acknowledge the need to work more closely with IT colleagues, but to thoroughly embrace that relationship and build very close ties. Ideally, HTM professionals would realize that it isn’t enough to build just any relationship. You don’t want to only lower the fence so that you can toss things over to the IT team. HTM professionals must increase their own knowledge to the point where they can make a direct hand-off and facilitate more efficient, effective processes.
The challenge is that this isn’t an “ideal” world. I know many HTM professionals who stubbornly stick to what they know and refuse to embrace the obviously required change. As I was thinking about this situation, it came to me that we have seen this many times before.
One example that came to mind was when horses stopped being the primary mode of transportation, replaced by trains and automobiles. Blacksmiths were prolific and an important part of the scene when horses provided the main means of getting around. As horses became less common and business for blacksmiths began to wane, many blacksmiths realized that a new world was coming and that they needed to take advantage of their basic talents and learn new skills to exist, even thrive, in a more mechanical world. But I’m sure that many stubbornly stuck to their guns and the world they were comfortable with. The best were able to succeed. Heck, even today there is a need for blacksmiths! But the need is low, and only the best can survive. So if you want to be an expert at shoeing horses in a world of planes, trains, and automobiles, you had better be damn good at what you do, and you better keep your bags packed to be ready to move to the next opportunity. If that is your approach, all I have so say is good luck!
Ken Maddock is vice president of Facility Support Services with Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, TX.