We live in a polarized world, which implies opposing viewpoints and little collaboration and compromise, often expressed by people taking sides on “teams.” Unfortunately, polarization also occurs in the medical device industry. We choose a team, and place our loyalty behind it, while resisting the reality that we are in an infinite game where there are no “winners.”
Sports offers a good analogy. We sports fans obsessively arrange our schedules around our favorite teams’ broadcasts; wear authentic, authorized jerseys; and sometimes cover ourselves in body paint and ridiculous hats. Many of us choose our teams based on where we live, where we went to school, or through a family tradition.
I was born, raised, and still reside in Wisconsin, so I could go on about how the Green Bay Packers are the greatest sports team on the planet. But if I’m honest, the primary driver of my loyalty is that I am from the place the Packers also call home. I will seek out evidence to support my view of their greatness. If I am presented with evidence that opposes my view, I will simply put more weight into factors that support my perspective and downplay the relevance of negative evidence. For sports, this is “team loyalty.”
In the medical device servicing industry, many of us identify with one of three teams: original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), independent service organizations (ISOs), and hospital-based programs. We can find evidence to support how exceptional our team is— and evidence for why the other teams are not so exceptional. This biased loyalty is exaggerated by our abundant access to quick references that we can cherry pick, detailed data sets we can filter in just the right way, and, in some cases, confusion over inaccurate or misleading information.
Loyalty is just “supporting your team” and taking pride in the great work you all do, right? But if we are not careful, this can turn from rooting for your team to rooting against the other teams. Since I’m a Packers fan, you might assume that I hate the Chicago Bears, who have battled my team for decades. Actually, this is not the case! I want the Packers to be successful in an exceptional division of worthy opponents, including the Bears.
Strong opponents make us stronger. They push us to new limits, force us to innovate, and inspire us to elevate our game. OEMs, ISOs, and hospital-based programs are all teams playing in the same division. We all need to be strong to elevate the industry. We need to focus our energy on becoming better versions of ourselves while rooting for and supporting our worthy “opponents.”
Sometimes, that support requires direct collaboration. Patients who rely on our technology don’t see three distinct teams. They just assume someone is taking care of the medical devices. That “someone” is the healthcare technology management (HTM) industry. HTM is more than hospital-based programs. It’s all of us working together:
- OEMs offer design and engineering, which can bring the wildest dreams of technology to life. They can develop resources to enable servicers to keep technology safe and effective.
- ISOs bring an economy of scale and large datasets that drive standardization. They can share that experience to help the industry be more efficient and more coordinated.
- Hospital-based HTM programs bring the practical application of technology service within diverse and dynamic healthcare environments and cultures. They manage the entire ecosystem where the physical, financial, and political environments influence the technology.
Imagine what we could accomplish together if we all brought our strengths into a culture of collaboration—a health technology Dream Team.
Matt Dummert is the healthcare technology management director for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin; an adjunct online instructor for Indiana University–Purdue University Indiana and Marquette University; creator of the ParadigmHTM podcast; and a member of the BI&T Editorial Board.