Speakers at AAMI 2013 addressed the changes surrounding the merging of traditional IT and HTM roles. While uncertainty still exists, the speakers pointed to way in which biomeds and other HTM professionals can use this industry shift to their advantage, gaining new skills, furthering their careers, and bringing more attention to traditional biomed responsibilities.

Heidi Horn, vice president of of clinical engineering service for SSM Integrated Health Technologies, spoke about the future in a presentation on the “ultimate HTM department.” She urged biomeds to find ways to hone verbal and written communication skills and project management experience. While technical mastery is important to the job, she said that these other skills will put biomeds in a better position to be chosen for leadership roles. In addition, she encouraged entire departments to assess the ways in which they present themselves to others and to stress the professional nature of what biomeds do. Even small things, like paying attention to word choice, can go a long way in creating a positive perception throughout facilities. Do you call your office a “shop?” Horn said to call it a “department” instead. Do you refer to yourself as a “technician”? Instead, use “HTM specialist.”

In another presentation, Russ Branzell of the CHIME foundation said that while change has always been a part of the medical world, the pace of change needs to shift from evolutionary to revolutionary in order to address quickly rising costs. “You play a vital role in this change,” he said to the audience. “The vast majority of patient information is coming from you.” He said that what the industry needs now are standards that will enable seamless, universal plug-and-play devices. He noted how a person can use their debit card at any time, regardless of place or which bank owns the ATM, largely because of standards they abide by. He said biomeds should use their voices and their dollars to stress the importance of developing the needed standards. The challenge to connect these devices lies where the lines between IT and HTM start to blur. If biomeds take responsibility for issues like this, he added, the C-suite will notice.