Last October, I had the pleasure of attending the biannual national meeting of the Chinese Society for Clinical Engineering (CSCE) as an invited speaker. The meeting was held in Kunming, China—the city of flowers and capital of Yunan Province, which is located in southern China just north of Laos. I was honored to represent both AAMI and the American College of Clinical Engineering at the meeting. I believe that myself plus and one other invited speaker from Japan were the only two attendees from outside of China.
The CSCE (a branch of the Chinese Medical Association) has given clinical engineering a significant boost as a profession within China. The organization is led by its president, Gao Guanxin (vice president of Inner Mongolia People’s Hospital) and Zheng Kun, vice chair of CSCE and director of clinical engineering at the Children’s Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine. From top to bottom, the CSCE was extremely hospitable and welcoming to my wife Dina and me during our stay in Kunming.
The night before the meeting, they interviewed me about the overall message I wanted to communicate to attendees. They were also very interested in the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with medical device regulation. Apparently, the FDA’s role is much more robust in the United States than anything they have in China. CSCE then used that interview as the basis for a nice introductory article about me in the convention newspaper of the first day of the meeting.
The CSCE kept me extremely busy during the one full day of their meeting. At their request, I gave a brief keynote at the opening. For the keynote, they were particularly interested in an overview of my 47-year career in clinical engineering, chiefly the many changes that I’d seen over that time period. Later, I gave another talk as the scope of AAMI activities to the attendees, which was prepared by AAMI staff. I also gave my primary presentation medical device safety as well as the responsibility of HTM professionals to foster patient safety. CSCE also asked me to participate in two roundtable discussions. Certainly, by the end of the day, I was exhausted.
Overall, Dina and I were greatly impressed with friendliness of all the meeting attendees. The majority of them spoke either minimal or no English. Communication for the talks worked as follows: I spoke in English, and every two sentences I paused for a designated CSCE member to translate what I said for the audience. It helped that AAMI paid to have my PowerPoint presentations translated in advance, which also shared with the designated translators. The translators also had the opportunity to meet me and ask questions before the talks began. It helped immensely that both translators were themselves clinical engineers themselves, so that they could—and did—ask penetrating questions. We used a similar process for the roundtable discussions.
The HTM colleagues I met were quite knowledgeable about medical devices, and they asked me questions that were quite good and very much on point. The Chinese healthcare system itself is obviously much different from that in the United States. My overall impression was that the CSCE members knew that HTM practices are much more advanced in the U.S. and they are eager to learn from us.
Alan Lipschultz, CCE, PE, CSP, CPPS, is president of HealthCare Technology Consulting LLC in North Bethesda, MD. He was director of clinical engineering at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware from 1989 to 2011. He is vice president of the American College of Clinical Engineering and a member of the BI&T Editorial Board for AAMI.