By Aine Cryts
Heidi Horn, the 2019 recipient of AAMI’s “HTM Leadership Award,” wonders why she didn’t “make the leap” to pursue a new direction in her career years ago. That’s not to say that she’s not incredibly proud of her 20-plus years at St. Louis-based SSM Health, where she capped off her career as vice president of HTM. (After all, she says, SSM Health “made me who I am.”)

But Horn believes that spreading one’s wings may mean leaving the familiar and stepping out into the unknown. Which is why she’s excited to fully break into her new role as vice president of global enablement—healthcare at Paramus, N.J.-based Nuvolo Technologies, a provider of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and other integrated workplace management solutions. “[I used to] look at it as [if I was] giving up 20 years to do something else,” she admits. Now, Horn only sees the possibilities of her new role.

Nuvolo’s CEO, Tom Stanford, also has high hopes for Horn. “Heidi’s experience will be an important asset as we continue to scale our healthcare business, replace legacy [computerized maintenance management systems], and create a better work experience for our HTM customers,” Stanford said in a statement. “Her deep industry experience, understanding of the everyday needs of the hospital, and commitment to teamwork are important attributes she brings to our organization.”

Navigating Career Changes

Changing careers is nothing new to Horn—and her start in HTM may surprise some. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Horn found work with WIBV Radio in Belleville, Ill. Suffice it to say that the early morning hours demanded by radio life, as well as the long drive to work “in the middle of corn fields” weren’t for her. She then transitioned to a job writing and editing for Suburban Newspapers of Greater St. Louis, where she covered the local beats.

Horn credits her journalism degree with helping her “[learn] how to take complex issues and communicate them in a way everyone can understand in as few words as possible.” Such training has served her well throughout her career, she adds.

After taking on a handful of marketing roles, Horn received a master’s in marketing from Webster University in St. Louis—a degree that helped her land her first role at SSM Health as a business development manager. There, Horn created and grew a for-profit service group that specialized in clinical equipment consulting, program management, and equipment maintenance.

For her next challenge, she took on another role at SSM Health, where she drove overall operations and sales for clinical equipment maintenance and consulting services for 100 non-SSM hospitals and clinics. She was successful, to say the least—within five years, Horn grew the program to a $1 million net income business, and it continued to grow.

Next up? After selling a multi-million-dollar consulting program to a large Florida-based health system, she decided to move her family to Tampa, Fla., to run the five-year consulting program. Because of her work, the client’s clinical equipment maintenance expenses fell from $20 million to $15 million across 10 acute-care hospitals and more than a dozen large surgery and diagnostic imaging centers.

But St. Louis beckoned again and Horn returned to her home city to serve as SSM Health’s vice president of HTM. And it was that role in which Horn arguably shined the brightest. As vice president of HTM, Horn managed 120 team members across the healthcare enterprise.

Making Her Mark on the Field

During her tenure at SSM Health, Horn was a member of the health system’s Integrated Health Technologies Executive Council, reporting to the chief information officer—in addition to serving on committees focused on safety, health privacy, and security oversight. And in 2010, Horn successfully navigated the review and rewrite of SSM’s capital clinical equipment planning and allocation policy that led to savings of more than $15 million for the health system.

Some of Horn’s other career highlights include serving as the HTM executive lead on the system-wide selection and deployment of the Alaris infusion pump, as well as leading a quality improvement team during the system-wide, phase 1 implementation of a patient alarm management improvement process.

According to Horn’s “HTM Leadership Award” nomination, under her tutelage SSM Health’s HTM department was transformed from serving as a traditional clinical equipment maintenance provider to effectively managing all clinical equipment-related responsibilities, including service support, purchasing, contract management, project management, and cybersecurity.

Receiving this award wasn’t Horn’s only achievement in 2019, however. In June, she was named an AAMI Fellow—one of the highest designations in the HTM sector. Fellows, according to AAMI, are members who have provided substantial service and contributions to the organization and the health technology industry. In addition, AAMI Fellows have made significant achievements relevant to the association’s mission to lead global collaboration in the development, management, and use of safe and effective health technology.

Celebrating Success

When Horn learned that she’d receive the “HTM Leadership Award”, she invited her husband to the AAMI Exchange 2019 to celebrate her career achievement. And an achievement it was: The AAMI HTM Leadership Award recognizes individual excellence, achievement, and leadership in the HTM profession, according to the association.

AAMI describes Horn as an “active volunteer leader in the HTM community” and lauds her membership on the AAMI Board of Directors and Technology Management Council Executive Community—in addition to her service as chair and/or member of various other AAMI committees over a 13-year period.

The association also touts Horn’s numerous written articles, conference presentations, and participation in AAMI’s Future Forums and the FDA’s 2016 workshop on refurbishing, reconditioning, rebuilding, remarketing, remanufacturing, and servicing of medical devices. In addition, Horn represented the HTM community to contribute to the first draft of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance’s American National Standard for the service of medical imaging equipment.

At the AAMI award ceremony, which took place at the annual conference in Cleveland in June, Horn was presented with a $2,500 check and a plaque. Calling it a “huge honor,” she says it was “almost like the ‘cake topper’ on my career.”

Sharing Her Wisdom

Industry honors aside, Horn has a lot of wisdom to share with the next generation of HTM professionals—namely, the importance of staying up to date with their technological skills. “It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent and not take time to learn those new skills,” she says. “You have to do it to remain relevant in our field.”

This is sage advice from a HTM leader with experience managing employees across several generations. While Horn welcomes younger professionals, who are driven to pursue the next step in their careers, she says it’s important for these team members to be willing to “put their time in.”

“I’ve managed people in their early 20s and those in their 70s,” says Horn. They all bring their own gifts and skill sets. The role of a manager is to identify what those [gifts and skill sets] are.”

After all, she says, successful managers can tap into a team member’s niche—that’s where the employee is happiest and contributing the most. And by tapping into employees’ skills, one just may be cultivating the next generation of HTM leaders—like herself.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for 24×7 Magazine. Questions and comments can be directed to 24×7 Magazine chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected]

Horn Off the Clock

Family basics:

Horn and her husband of 20 years have a son who’s heading to college this fall and a daughter who is a senior in high school.

Preferred pet: Horn is quite partial to her family’s dog, a Tibetan Terrier.

Favorite travel spots: Horn and her family recently got back from a vacation to Breckenridge, Colo.—where, she says, they had a great time relishing the outdoors. “We went hiking, ATV riding, and horseback riding in the mountains and white-water rafting,” she says. Horn says her family also took a “wonderful” trip to Barcelona, Spain, last year, and she praises the region’s views and architecture. “Once we’re empty-nesters, we hope to be able to take an overseas trip each year,” she maintains.