Spring Into the Future

StephensKelly Stephens, Editor, 24×7

Human immortality is coming. Or at least near-immortality, according to David Brin, who spoke at the 2005 Executive Summit for Service Leaders in San Diego in mid March. He was referring to physical life extension—perhaps to the point of immortality—thanks, eventually, to medical technological advancements such as vital organ prostheses, stem cell research, and nanotechnology. In our lifetime, he predicted, scientists will be capable of cryogenically preserving and reanimating animals, if not humans.

Sound a bit like something out of a science fiction novel? Well, to be fair, Brin is a science fiction author (notably of Earth, an ecological thriller, and The Postman, on which a 1998 movie directed by Kevin Costner was based). But, he’s also a scientist (with a master’s of science degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate of philosophy in space physics), and he’s not alone in his views.

Brin’s provocative morning presentation at the conference, sponsored by the Association of Field Service Managers International and the Service Industry Association, prepared conference attendees for subsequent forward-looking presentations, such as that by Stephen Brown, PhD, professor and executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University.

In his presentation, “Mandates for Services Leaders of the Future,” Brown made several suggestions for providing best-in-class service. One was to “involve customers as coproducers.” Your customers, the users of medical equipment, will benefit most from your technical service when they can be involved in fixing the problem. This entails helping users understand the problem and teaching them to prevent or manage future problems.

Another tenet Brown introduced was to “effectively recover from service failures.” Repeat service calls may be a hassle and may take you away from your scheduled routine, but handling complaints quickly and professionally can help build a good name for the department or company for which you work.

Those who prove themselves to be competent and valuable assets to the health care continuum will undoubtedly enjoy job security and growth, no matter what twists and turns the technological advancements of the future bring. Who knows—maybe one day, you’ll spend much of your time performing PMs on the electrical components of cyborgs who are more machine and computer than human or presenting in-service training sessions on the basics of cryogenic preservation equipment. Until then, we’ll stay focused on the tasks at hand.

I hope to see you at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation conference and exposition in May!