An HTM society is growing in New York

May 07, 2019
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
A year ago, the idea of an association for HTM professionals in the New York City area was only that — an idea.

Fast forward to today, and the New York Metropolitan Clinical Engineering Society is preparing to launch a membership drive in which it will visit with HTM leaders at various hospitals throughout New York State, encouraging them to become members and help strengthen the voice of HTM professionals throughout their communities.

Sudhakar Nagavalli
“We hope to reach a sizeable level in the next 12 months,” Sudhakar Nagavalli, vice president of the group, and president and principal of the consulting firm, SunagMed, told HCB News. “The maximum would be about 2,500 to 3000 members in the metropolitan area. For the state, the potential could be 5,000 to 6000. That’s our goal, eventually.”

The association is recruiting individual and corporate members throughout not only New York State but also parts of Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who can offer it greater support for various tasks, including raising funds for speakers who can address critical areas of interest like cybersecurity and regulatory compliance, resources for setting up a continuing formal education program, access to new and evolving technologies, affiliations with specific universities for degree opportunities, and different levels of device training.

The group is not only interested in bringing in members with a strict HTM background, they are also seeking professionals with a more broad facility background, and are particularly interested in attracting members with IT backgrounds.

“The whole issue of clinical or biomedical engineering tied to IT-type technologies has become an increasing area within traditional hospital services,” Paul Frisch, acting president of the society, and chief of biomedical engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering, told HCB News. “This brings along with it a whole bunch of different skill sets. We’re now looking for people with IT knowledge, coupled with biomedical engineering, together.”

The brain child of Nagavalli and Frisch, the New York Metropolitan Clinical Engineering Society is in some ways an extension of the NY City Metropolitan Director’s Group, an informal assembly of clinical engineering directors, supervisors, managers and other senior leaders who met occasionally to address topics and concerns within the HTM community.

Wanting to make the group accessible to not just directors but all levels of HTM professionals, Nagavalli and Frisch sat down with the group in November 2017 to discuss how they might achieve this goal and provide a forum for HTM professionals throughout the entire state.

After a few more meetings, the organization came to fruition in early fall of 2018, thereby providing New York’s HTM community with a dependable peer network similar to those found in other parts of the U.S.

Paul Frisch
“We don’t have big representation of the HTM community, compared to other geographic regions in the country, even though we are one of the leading healthcare providing communities in the Northeast,” said Nagavalli. “The New York metropolitan area has the highest density of HTM professionals and providers. That was the impetus and initial push.”

Nagavalli and Frisch hope to strengthen the status of the society and generate more support by forming affiliations with leading healthcare stakeholders in New York and beyond, as well as other associations, including the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).

“Ultimately, for the professional side, I’d like the society to have a voice in organizations such as the FDA, or the Joint Commission,” said Frisch. “These organizations periodically solicit requests for participation on new topics that they want to address or regulate, and I think the society presents a voice representing the opinions of HTM professionals within the New York City area, which, in turn, represents a lot of high-end hospitals, and can provide feedback in regard to the pros and cons of how concepts such as cybersecurity should be orchestrated and exercised.”

Upon reaching a certain level of size and stability, the plan calls to engage in formal elections and officer selection. “In regard to leadership of the organization, it is initially starting as a volunteer basis, but would translate into a structured election or selection process as we continue to grow,” said Nagavalli. “I see that taking place anywhere over 12-24 months.”