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Biomed Viewpoints

by Sean Ruck , Contributing Editor
This first appeared in the May 2014 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News

Last year, we published our inaugural biomed viewpoints, which was mainly focused around the industry name change from “biomed” to “healthcare technology management (HTM).” We also talked about some challenges facing the biomed, or HTM,\ sector. While the name healthcare technology management hasn’t quite caught on outside the immediate confines of the biomed sector, other challenges facing the biomed field continue to be far-reaching, impacting every facet of health care. This year, we revisited with some of last year’s contributors and added some new names to the roster to talk about those challenges. The big topics of discussion include the changing role of biomeds, the impact and concerns surrounding the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services guidelines for preventative maintenance, and the post-Affordable Care Act world of health care and how it will shape the future of the biomedical field.

HCBN: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 30 percent growth rate in health technology management, or nearly 13,000 more jobs in the field between 2012 and 2022. Clinical engineering is under that umbrella — have you noticed any change in the level of demand for clinical engineering that would justify that prediction? What do you think the future will look like for health technology management?

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Patrick Lynch, president of Healthcare Technology Management Association of South Carolina:
Clinical engineering is in less demand than ever before. Hospitals are jettisoning clinical engineers in favor of BMETs who can fix equipment. Unfortunately, many hospitals are dumbing-down the HTM department into a fix-it department. This is because of intense cost pressures. They feel that money can be saved by performing repairs in-house, but engineering better systems design is not seen as an immediate need.

Greg Mika, clinical engineering manager at Martha Jefferson Hospital; president of the Virginia Biomedical Association: We haven’t seen enough here to justify new positions to be added yet, but we’re certainly seeing activity in new areas where we haven’t before — integration of medical devices, EHR, connecting devices, things that require more expertise. We’re still doing safety checks and PM and certification, but more things are being tied into the EHR. Even sterilizers — they’re all networked and tied into a system.

Steve Vanderzee, manager for clinical engineering technology at Advocate Health Care: As health programs continue to consolidate, clinical engineering will continue to consolidate as well. So if a hospital with an outsource merges with an in-house, it can go either way. Depending on the structure of the program, there can be some redundancy, so there’d be an opportunity to consolidate, and that could lead to a reduction of positions. I don’t think that’s the case on the technical side (the actual physical repairs), but could be on the support side (management, clerical).
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