Exploring the Common Good

MarcheseIf you read Ray Zambuto’s Soap Box column, “Supporting the Common Good,” in last month’s issue, you know he called for biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) and clinical engineers (CEs) to end their “sniping at each other” and to embrace a cooperative and collaborative spirit. Zambuto, president of the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE), even drew the late, great Ben Franklin into the fray, quoting the noted philosopher-scientist on the importance of fellowship and solidarity. He also made note of a meeting slated to take place at the American Association of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) conference this month in Long Beach, Calif., involving ACCE members and members of regional biomed societies.

Ted Cohen, ACCE vice president and manager of clinical engineering at University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, is working to make that meeting happen.

Cohen says the organization got the ball rolling in order to “brainstorm some ideas on what the ACCE could provide or collaborate on with some of these biomed groups.” He refers to ACCE’s expertise on the educational front, with its annual AAMI symposium, its monthly teleconference program that kicks off a new season each May and its advanced workshops for clinical engineers. And don’t forget the ACCE task forces already busy promoting a national focus in such areas as patient safety/medical errors, the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) initiative and the HIPAA security provision project, he notes.

In fact, a national focus could be just the ticket for dealing with those larger-than-local issues that bedevil the BMET and CE communities, Cohen suggests. BMET and CE recruitment, is one example; BMET volunteer efforts in overseas medical missions and equipment repair projects is another.

“Just in talking to biomedical equipment technicians and clinical engineers, there has been, I think, a need or a desire to establish some kind of national group, or a way to focus some of the good things that have been happening with CEs or BMETs on a national or larger scale,” he offers. “When I say ‘good things,’ I mean there are a large number of very successful local BMET technology management organizations throughout the country. Although individual organizations may wax and wane, the concept seems to be growing and getting stronger. People go to these meetings because they are local, but at the same time, there is a need for some standardization nationwide and some advocacy nationwide; there are some issues that the local people can’t address locally.”

When Cohen and I spoke in late April, he talked about ACCE’s putting together a list of local biomed society officers culled from Web sites, AAMI rosters and other sources. The idea was to take advantage of the fact that hundreds of people will be in attendance at the AAMI conference and to invite interested parties to a breakfast-and-brainstorming session on Sunday, June 15, from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

“It’s primarily a brainstorming session and [a way] for the ACCE to see if there is interest,” Cohen says, “and if there is, to decide on one, two, three, four or whatever number we pick of these topics that are worth pursuing and putting some resources into. And it would be a partnership or a collaborative project between a group of biomed organizations and the ACCE.”

Cohen hopes to see approximately 25 people at the meeting. Attendees from biomed societies do not have to be officers, he says; they just have to wear their local organizations’ hats, so to speak.

Meanwhile, anyone who wishes to help shape the meeting’s agenda ahead of time is welcome to engage Cohen in an e-mail discussion at ted.cohen@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu. For those intending to attend the meeting, mark Sunday, June 15, Hyatt Regency Long Beach, on your conference calendar.

I understand that coffee will be available, and that the common good will be well-served.

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Marie S. Marchese
Editor, 24×7