The Surest Thing In Life

StephensSeveral years ago, I worked at a newspaper that had just updated its entire IT infrastructure. The daily production process was almost entirely paperless, and in my opinion, extremely efficient.

Sadly, some of the most highly skilled (and longest-term) employees experienced tremendous difficulty in making the technical transition. A few people stepped down their duties considerably. Some quit. Others flourished.

Such as it is with most progress in life. In the quest to make processes quicker and more efficient, those who cannot keep up get left behind.

A teacher once told me that “the kindest and cruelest part of life is the necessary element of change.” Those words have stuck with me, and examples are all throughout history. When the cross-country telegraph was introduced in 1861, the riders of the Pony Express lost their jobs. When the television moved to the must-have list in the late 1940s, radio stars became obsolete. As computers eased their way into our everyday lives, ever-advanced computer skills became job requirements. Today, those with no email account might as well not send out a job resumé.

Now, change is coming to the US health care system. During an address at the Cleveland Clinic in late January, President Bush urged physicians and hospitals to more fully employ electronic medical records, saying that doing so would improve health care and save the nation money. Also, many organizations are working to implement communication standards for medical device “plug and play” interoperability at the point of care.

It may come slowly, but change is coming—whether we like it or not. So, how do technical service and support professionals avoid the fate of the once-acclaimed radio stars? I would suggest facing these changes head-on instead of getting caught off-guard.

For instance, a group called the IEEE 1073 Medical Device Com-munications Committee, under the American National Standards Institute umbrella, is helping to develop standards for medical device communication at the point of care. These standards will impact wired and wireless deployment and other issues at the

hospital bedside, according to Yadin B. David, PhD, director of biomedical engineering at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Check out the IEEE 1073 Web site ( for more information on how you can provide input on the development and implementation of those standards. By getting involved, biomeds can stay at the forefront of the industry instead of lagging behind.

Speaking of changes, as you read through this issue, take notice of 24×7’s new streamlined design thanks to Art Director Mark Strassner. 24×7 strives to help you stay in the vanguard, and we want our pages to reflect that.

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