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Biomedical engineers meet to discuss expansion of New York City HTM association

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
Significant changes are taking place in biomedical engineering, from the rise of 3-D printing in hospitals to alterations in government regulations, to the increasing of investments in IT technology.

Along with these occurrences, a greater reliance on associations for health technology managers (HTMs) has arisen in various states, such as North Carolina, Georgia and Oregon, to address their needs.

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Not much exists on a state or regional level for biomedical engineers in New York State, however, a fact that has prompted the New York City Metropolitan Clinical Engineering Directors to discuss expanding its reach to meet regional needs at a higher level.

In late November, this endeavor was discussed at a meeting held at the New York Athletic Club.

“Sharing ideas is the big thing here,” Shashi Avadhani of Crothall Healthcare said. “We all face the same challenges in the health environment. When we all come together, we share the best practices. It’s all for patient care and safety.”

The main topics of conversation revolved around what the goals of the group should be, and whom their audience should include.

“I think we need to start with a foundation,” Salvatore Tatta of the Bronx VA Medical Center said. “What are our goals? How are we going to help our fellow engineers? This all needs to be solidified first.”

Sudhakar Nagavalli of SunagMED LLC, who was instrumental in setting up the Illinois biomedical engineering association, shared his own view on whom the group should focus on as part of its targeted audience. “If membership is what drives an organization, it needs to be inclusive of managers, supervisors and technicians,” he said.

They also discussed how best to spur interest among health care professionals throughout the state, with some suggesting holding workshops, seminars or lectures.

Paul Booth of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said that attracting interest will require unique and creative ideas. “I think if you actually want to think outside the box, you need to go somewhere different to entice these people.”

The meeting also delved into the changing nature of the HTM industry, regarding technology, such as 3-D printers, standard practices, government regulations and the evolving fields of health IT, informatics and intelligent hospitals.

“I think that the scope of biomedical engineering in hospitals and most institutions is very limited” Paul H. Frisch of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said.

All agreed that the group must address these needs in various ways, playing a key role in helping to drive standardization and certification of best practices, regulations and technology. Other topics included discussions of the best ways to attract vendors, educating the next generation and types of events the association should host.

Richard Elrose of Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility said the meeting is an encouraging first step for establishing a necessary resource for biomedical engineers throughout New York State. “There’s a lot of power if we pool our data,” he advised. “Getting together like this is perfect. We can come up with good ideas, best practices.”

Tamara Bua of GE Healthcare echoed this assessment. “We need to be flexible and keep up with the times.”

Attendees agreed to form a steering committee to further address these topics and to reach out to their contacts to increase awareness of plans to expand their association.

The next scheduled meeting on the expansion of the association is slated for Tuesday, December 12 from 12-1:30 p.m. at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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