Salim Kai: Where Do You Stand in a Changing HTM Landscape?

Are you ready for the changes taking place in healthcare today?

It is no surprise that the healthcare technology management (HTM) profession is rapidly changing. Along with it, the way we are leading and managing our daily work is also changing. Everywhere we look around us at work, we see change is taking place in the way hospitals are delivering care and the increased value being offered to patients. For example, healthcare delivery is being offered via telehealth to reach rural communities. Standalone emergency departments are being designed to cater same-day service to patients. The focus continues to be on improving the quality of care, patient safety, patient satisfaction and reduced cost.

How fast is technology changing in healthcare? How is it being deployed? In this changing landscape, managing technologies is evolving as well. Some recent examples are the electronic health record, real-time location systems, remote-monitoring technologies, sensors and wearable technology, everything wireless, interoperability solutions to exchange patient information across multiple settings, and the list goes on and on.

Do you have the needed skills to become an HTM change agent? Nothing is like what it used to be. Some days it feels as if we are swimming in a sea of change. Some of it we like, while others we don’t fully understand. The healthcare landscape is changing at a rapid pace, and it is easy to be left behind with outdated skills. What are you doing to stay ahead of the curve and be informed? Are you a traditionalist or an innovator? Are you volunteering your time to be on one of AAMI’s many well-respected committees? Are you attending the AAMI Annual Conference & Expo? Are you making time to network with others to learn from each other? Are you sharing lessons learned from the field with others? The bottom line is that as our roles change in the healthcare arena, we need to keep retraining ourselves and stay up to date.

Change always makes people uncomfortable, and it is obvious that many people don’t like to change. People ask, “how am I going to benefit from this proposed change?” On a number of occasions, I hear colleagues in HTM or inpatient safety circles say, “Yes, I am all for change as long as I don’t have to change the way I go about doing my job.” It’s true! Change is not easy since it can create uncertainty about what is changing.

Whenever change is anticipated, it always creates conflict among those who support change and those who oppose it. We have seen examples of it in recent years when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a change in regulatory compliance requirements (e.g., Hospital Equipment Maintenance Requirements, Categorical Waiver for Power Strips Use in Patient Care Areas). A live demonstration of this would be to get a few HTM professionals together and ask them whether planned maintenance (PM) should be performed per manufacturer’s recommendation or whether PMs enhance patient safety.

Across the HTM world, change can be viewed with two different lenses. The traditionalist lens views change as being meaningless. Traditionalists say, “I don’t need to change. I am happy where I am at in my career. Keep replaying the past.” On the other hand, the innovator lens views change as being meaningful. It is welcome and a breath of fresh air. “What do I need to learn? Let’s plunge into the future.”

Which one of the two are you likely to be—traditionalist or innovator? Change should be planned and guided by passionate, visionary leadership. Leaders should be able to explain what is at stake if we don’t change as a profession.

Salim Kai, MSPSL, CBET, is the biomedical engineering manager with Kettering Health Network in Kettering, OH.

One thought on “Salim Kai: Where Do You Stand in a Changing HTM Landscape?

  1. We need finer gradations on change than yes or no. It is relatively easy to change things, it is harder to make them better. It is good to first know the purpose of the change. Since I think of engineers as problem solvers this means first identifying what problem it is that are you trying to solve? Then ask how is it that what you are proposing will actually solve that problem. Then tell me how you will measure whether it did solve the problem (or make the problem worse). The issue isn’t to just embrace change, the issue is to embrace improvement. Not just different, but better.

    At a more narrow focus change takes resources, and prioritization, both of which should be the subject of sound analysis and measurement.

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