c01.jpg (7232 bytes)I tip my hat to the new-hires who are driving up the value of BMETs. Too bad it doesn’t translate to existing techs, but that’s nobody’s fault, and it doesn’t mean veteran techs are being abused.

In this issue we are printing this year’s Pulse Check of compensation trends in the healthcare technology management, service and support industry. I already know I will get letters, angry phones calls and the usual death threats for our interpretations. There’s more bile generated over compensation than any other topic in this industry. So be it. A trend’s a trend and I have to call ’em as I see ’em. I ask just one favor: read the rest of this column before sending your e-mail.

Let’s look at some of the comments we received with Pulse Check responses:

“It saddens me that one of the largest healthcare systems in the U.S. can only see the bottom line and pays the biomedical staff so poorly.”

While there are many reasons why new techs get the same amount as experienced ones, you don’t have to be Alan Greenspan to recognize the primal forces of supply and demand at work here. This is good, for employers and employees, although the rancorous posturing assumed by both sides can make it difficult to see the logic in that statement. Let’s strip away the emotion and look at history.

In the 1980s, compensation for service techs was closely tied to the purchase price of the machine, and many of those machines were wildly overpriced so salaries in certain specialties flew outside the laws of economics. When the world rose up against the cost of medical care in the 1990s, the axe fell in many service departments. Faced with losing its entitlements, the industry reacted by digging in its heels. Stagnating. It became unstylish to admit you were a healthcare technology service technician. Pundits said service was a dinosaur — “Computers don’t break!” — and technical school enrollments dropped.

Well, we discovered computers do break (they break a lot!). Service techs are needed in many industries, not just healthcare, only now there’s a shortage because we didn’t get kids into our schools. Healthcare technology is no longer allowed to violate the laws of economics — information technology has that honor now — so for biomeds, compensation has returned to the rules, and obeying supply and demand will make compensation more predictable, more logical and downright fairer for everyone over the long run.

“The only way to make more is to be a manager and sit through worthless meetings.

Do I really have to explain why this person isn’t making $70k a year? And why is that bad?

Life is a series of compromises. If you prefer skilled soldering to budget-time Shinola, then you must buy the lifestyle of a craftsman. The difference between what you make as a tech and what a manager is paid is that price tag. By the same token, the manager is paying for a bigger paycheck by shelling out time, aggravation and financing a four-packs-a-day Rolaids habit.

Don’t confuse pay scale with quality of life. Everybody’s stoichiometry is different. Be happy with your own equilibrium.

We run the compensation Pulse Check in December because this is the time of year when most people are reviewed for raises. I also believe this is the proper time of year to do the math to reveal what is most important in your life. Look at your career, your family, your potential for

contentment. Add it all up and decide what is just compensation for you.

“Still underpaid for what we do.”

Does anyone, anywhere think they are overpaid for what they do?

I’ll admit to being cranky, crotchety and the meanest critic since Jim Carey donned his hairy Grinch suit, but I think the littlest Whos in our biomed Whoville deserve every dime they can get. Any jealous soul that says otherwise, judging life strictly in terms of material greed, is the real green meanie.

Happy holidays.

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