Donald Armstrong: In 2017, Let’s Blow Our Horns All Year Long

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I have had something on my mind for 2017.

As biomeds or healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, we do not get the credit we deserve. I don’t want that to come across in a sour grapes sort of way. I’m simply pointing out a truth. When is the last time you heard, “I am going to that hospital because I heard its biomed department is great” or “The biomed department at that hospital is one of the highest ranked by U.S. News & World Report.”? You don’t hear such comments because no one knows we exist outside of our own organizations.

Historically, we’ve not been ones to blow our own horns—and that needs to change. We must find a way to strongly (yet humbly) promote what we bring to the healthcare arena.

We are all capable of marveling at the talents of an amazing surgeon, athlete, singer, or actor. We marvel because can see incredible skills and talents that exceed the norm. Why can’t we do the same thing with biomeds? Mastering the skills to manage and maintain sophisticated medical devices and healthcare technology is not easy. To be a great HTM professional reflects a commitment to learning, service to others, and top-notch healthcare.

I am so proud to be a biomed when individuals tell me or a member of my team how thankful they are that we are there and they could not do what they do without our support. To get such feedback is much more than receiving a compliment; it is an acknowledgement of our worth.

Not all our colleagues get that kind of feedback, and we need to be able to highlight our own skills and value so that others can see it as well. Even though U.S. News & World Report may never issue a list of the best biomed departments in the country, we should all feel we could be on that list if it existed.

AAMI does a great job with awards and recognitions, but let’s take it upon ourselves to do more. For 2017, I propose that individual HTM departments promote themselves for what they are: trusted technical and clinical partners at the bedside and beyond. By doing that, our clinical partners may see us in a different light.

Let me know what you think about this idea. How are you presenting your department in your organization? What are you doing to get out of the basement and onto the floors where we should be?

Donald Armstrong, CBET, CHTM, works in the Clinical Technology and Biomedical Engineering Department at Stanford Health Care in California. He is a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council.

7 thoughts on “Donald Armstrong: In 2017, Let’s Blow Our Horns All Year Long

  1. I honestly have to disagree with one point my esteemed friend Don is making. I have been a technical, mechanical, hands-on worker all my life. I come from a long line of farmers, mechanics, and electricians. I’ve been an aircraft mechanic, plumber, and general handyman. In my opinion, biomeds do not get a smidgen of the credit they deserve. Thankless long hours in some dark dank basement next to the morgue. They work under impossible deadlines with even more impossible budget constrains.

    A hospital is only as good as its caregivers and the equipment they rely on to provide safe patient care. As technology advances, and hospitals buy into newer and more complicated equipment, biomeds are there to support the mission. Without biomeds, a hospital would be a very dangerous place filled with expensive paperweights.

    I hear it all the time: budget, budget, budget. The Biomed Department is seen as a cost center, and I think that is wrong. Without it, hospitals would not be able to treat patients. Imagine how valuable a locksmith would be if the only way to serve your customer was to unlock a door you didn’t have the key for.

    I think biomeds need to scream from the mountaintops for the appreciation and respect they so deeply deserve. I will always be on the side of the technician in the background, keeping the world moving, and I think it is time biomeds come out from the shadows to take a big bow.

  2. Hospital-based biomeds are ideally placed to address issues specific to how technology is used and managed in the real world. We all know this. However, there are very few hospital-based initiatives and ideas, specifically from the biomed department, that become commercial solutions that are readily available, profitable, supported and celebrated by their colleagues.

    Commercializing ideas and solutions not only attracts people to an industry or sector, but it encourages individuals to put their hands to try new things. It inspires them to change the status quo. We all benefit from this type of effort and these are the stories that will get us, as a group, into the media for all the right reasons.

    2017 would be a good year to encourage and support those biomeds who put up their hands to take on these challenges.

  3. Don, I am glad to see a post on this topic! I agree, our HTM community is very shy and I’ve noticed we do not promote ourselves. Here at Intermountain, we encourage our BMETs and engineers to participate in AAMI blogs, publish articles, and share their ideas to serve the HTM community. 2016 was indeed a great year for us. We did not hesitate to promote our work in a humble yet confident way! Our team members presented at four national conferences – three HTMs and one cybersecurity; and published four articles in AAMI, TechNation, DotMed, and Modern Healthcare.

    • Hello Priyanka,
      Enjoyed your comments! The question I would have is do those who are attending meetings and publishing communicate those efforts to their own management teams? The items you are listing are providing visibility among other like HTM professionals. The gap is how are they making themselves visible to their own hospital administrators? Just a thought…… Thanks for sharing. Chris

    • Hi Priya,
      Good to hear from you and have your team be so present is a great indicator of how engaged they are. Great work by all and let’s keep it up.


  4. This is a real hot button for me, having been in this field for over 30 years. The problem I feel is that biomeds, by nature, are typically not that good at “marketing” and that’s what they need to do: market themselves, and market their departments. I think that some of the experienced pros need to provide guidance on how to do this. Perhaps an AAMI guidance paper? There are very definite things a department can do. One of the reasons that biomed departments get outsourced is the third-party service providers do a good job of marketing their services. I would love to talk to this author further. How do I contact him?

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