By Patrick Lynch, CBET, CCE, CHTM, CPHIMS, FACCE
From getting copies of every service contract to cleaning up your shop to finding good reasons to reward staff, there are things HTM professionals at all levels can be doing today to ensure they, their co-workers, and their entire HTM team is performing at the highest level for the sake of their facility’s clinicians and patients receiving care. Below, are 10 important things that come to mind, but not listed by their order of importance:
1. Get copies of every service contract in the hospital. This includes ALL contracts for equipment maintenance. Include reagent contracts for clinical lab analyzers as well, and especially include all imaging equipment. Also, include any contracts for supplies which include equipment maintenance. Go to every department head that has them, and ask for copies, including Terms and Conditions. It will spark some interesting discussions. Why is this important? Because, how can you identify ways to be more productive and useful to the organization if you don’t have the raw data?
2. Clean up your inventory. Maintain a complete inventory. Document all acquisition dates and prices. Delete (or, retire) old items. Add end-of-life data, if known. Add fields for (and collect) networking data; this includes IP address, operating system, software version, and many other things. Why is this important? Well, if you ever are called upon to benchmark or compare costs or efficiency, you must start with a clean inventory. Saying that it is “incomplete,” or if there are omissions in the data fields, it just causes people to think you are hiding something—or slacking.
3. Organize your shop. Look like you know what you are doing. Eliminate clutter. Label everything. Look busy, but also look organized. Why? If you don’t look like a professional, why should anyone treat you like one? What does your shop appearance tell anyone who enters it? Does it say you’re competent and organized, or maybe kind of a slob? (Send me a picture of your shop, taken from the front door, and I will be glad to tell you my first impression.)
4. Learn to talk to your boss and your customers. Let’s face it: we are techno-geeks. Administration dreads talking to us because we are “those weird guys in the basement that talk all that technical jargon.” As BMETs, we learned medical terminology to be able to converse with nurses and clinicians. And so we must also learn the language of the other people with whom we interact, including administration, materials management, etc. Why? If we insist on continuing to speak a foreign language, i.e., HTM-speak, it only hurts us.
5. Identify your A, B, and C employees. The A’s are your superstars; you’d love to have your whole shop full of these guys and gals. The B’s are good workers; they are dependable, and they are the heart and soul of any shop. The C’s are marginal; you wouldn’t cry if these employees were gone. Why is it important to grade your staff this way? Everyone deserves to know where they are in the pecking order. Your A, B and C performers should be very clear about their rank in the order of things.
6. Learn to evaluate yourself from your boss’s perspective. Would your boss rate you as an A, B or C employee? Look at your boss’s total responsibilities and direct reports. Do you (and your department) occupy a larger-than-normal proportion of his/her time and energy? Why is this important to consider? Because if your boss is told to tighten up his or her operations, will you be viewed as part of the problem, or part of the solution?
7. Find a reason to reward your good employees and/or coworkers. You are only as good as your employees and coworkers. Be nice to them, create a team environment, and support each other. The reward can be praise for a job well done, or it can be more. Why? When things get tough, we need all the friends and allies we can get. Working closely together to present a more cohesive and unified appearance to the hospital can signal you desire to be a team player.
8. Identify your largest and most important customers. Sometimes your most important customers are not those who take up most of your time. Vocal, influential and high visibility customers can be disproportionately important to your success. Why? They are your best reference. Pay special attention to your largest and most important customers.
9. Meet with your most important customers frequently. Are your customers happy with your work? Is there more you could do for them? What keeps them awake at night? Why? Everyone has new problems and challenges. If you haven’t met with your customers in the last 60 days, you can bet that they are facing challenges that you don’t even know about. How can you be part of the solution to problems that you don’t even know about?
10. Meet with your boss regularly. Your boss is the largest influence on your job security. Is your boss delighted with your performance? What are the challenges on his/her plate? How can you help? Why? Like with customers, bosses are constantly challenged with new tests of their leadership ability and creativity. Your job is to make your boss successful in their job. Sometimes, they just need someone to vent to. Be supportive, and try to offer solutions, even if it is outside your main job description.
Patrick Lynch is a biomedical manager with 40 years’ experience. Questions and comments can be directed to email@example.com.