By Julie KirstJulieKirst 211

I believe it is safe to say that life brings continuous transitions. For those in the health care industry especially, changes abound—with more always on the horizon. Lately, the biomed association members I speak with say that they want to offer networking/IT information to their members, recognizing that those in the health care technology management profession are transitioning to new realms—even when it comes to their name.

Whether it feels comfortable or not, we can still approach and move through these transitions productively. Naturally, looking for the benefits—such as gaining knowledge that may benefit us in other areas—represents one way to meet and surmount change. In fact, these changes can propel us forward and revitalize us, especially when they are handled appropriately.

An important aspect that helps employees cope with transition involves the employer, and planning stands out as key. In the June 2009 “Networking” column in 24×7, Ken Olbrish, MSBE, wrote about “Guaranteeing Happy Transitions.” As true today as it was in 2009, I offer some significant ideas from Olbrish’s article to help guide the increasing number of clinical/biomedical engineering departments moving into the electronic medical record and IT territories.

“Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Involve Everyone: To ensure that the needs of the clinical departments are supported in cases of clinical engineering-IT mergers or in cases where biomeds are shifted into IT roles or departments, all parties involved in the transitions should be involved to ensure a smooth transition that causes minimal or no impact to the clinical departments.

Be Proactive: The planning for these transitions should be done proactively—rather than after the fact—and should ideally start as far in advance of the actual transition date.

Revisit Support Needs: As biomed departments move into new roles or departments, health care organizations should embrace this transition as an opportunity to revisit the support needs of their clinical customers, and not simply look at it as a means to consolidate staff or reduce costs. If the transitions ultimately lead to unhappy clinicians and staff who feel that their support needs have been cut or diminished, then the cost savings and other advantages afforded by the transitions may be diminished or lost as well.

During such changes, Olbrish notes that, “In the best transitions, the clinical departments will not notice any difference in their support, and through proper planning and discussion this goal can be realized despite any changes in support structure that take place.”

While transitions will come to us at different levels and frequency, one we must all face is the ultimate transition from this life. I was sad to learn that Les Atles passed away in February after a long illness. I first got to know Les when he was finishing his book, A Practicum for Biomedical Engineering and Management Issues, published by Kendall-Hunt in 2008. The book, a comprehensive biomedical resource that included 30 experts in the field, was not his first, and he enjoyed a distinguished career, serving as a mentor for many. Les will be missed, and on behalf of 24×7, I thank him for his contribution to the industry and for the laughter I shared in our conversations.

As each of us face changes in our role or work, I hope the above tips will guide you to happy and productive transitions that will empower you with new knowledge and skills. 24×7 Up Front March 2013

Julie Kirst is the chief editor of 24×7