The AAMI Annual Conference & Expo is an opportunity to hear from some of the key opinion leaders across healthcare technology management. It’s also a valuable forum to generate discussion among attendees about the problems facing the field, as well as some of the tools and solutions available.

24×7 reached out to three presenters from the recent Denver gathering to hear their account of their sessions. The speakers were asked to share their thoughts and impressions, touch on what topics proved most interesting to attendees, and explore how their experience might reshape their approach for next year.

Erin Sparnon on the Top 10 Issues Facing HTM

On June 7, Pat Baird, MBA, MS, Baxter Healthcare, and Erin Sparnon, MEng, ECRI Institute, led a room packed with biomeds and a few industry representatives in an open discussion of the highest priorities for HTM. 

Pat Baird and I teamed up to lead a facilitated group discussion session for the second year in a row. This time, we decided to tackle the top 10 HTM issues found in AAMI’s yearly survey of their members. By picking the topics keeping our colleagues up at night, we hoped to fill an hour with lively discussion.

Our attendees brought their concerns and shared their solutions generously, including the importance of giving endoscopes individual identifiers for tracking purposes, including reprocessing and patient matching; helping your IT department track IP addresses for networked equipment; using a team of equipment assistants to maintain par levels and track down equipment for IPM or recalls, software upgrades, or easy-to-spot problems; and training frontline caregivers in how to preserve evidence if an incident occurs.

With all the wisdom flying back and forth, we had to cut short some discussions about the hotter topics of infusion pumps and wireless spectrum management. As we were wrapping up, attendees agreed that they’d like a longer session next time to allow for more in-depth discussion. (I think this is the first time I have ever heard an audience ask for a longer session.) We’re looking forward to returning in an extended session next year, along with a dedicated note-taker to capture all the good ideas.

Matt Baretich on AAMI’s HTM Benchmarking Platform

On June 8, Matt Baretich, PhD, PE, CCE, Baretich Engineering Inc; Michelle Bush, AAMI; Ted Cohen, CCE, UC Davis Medical Center; and Frank Painter, MS, CCE, University of Connecticut, presented an update on AAMI’s HTM Benchmarking platform, followed by a user group meeting where they discussed future directions for the platform.

As “subject matter experts” for HTM Benchmarking, Ted Cohen, Frank Painter, and I set three objectives for 2015. The first is to make it easier for subscribers to collect and enter their performance data into the program. We have developed a spreadsheet for data entry that performs basic quality assurance. This will allow quicker publication of subscriber data and higher initial data quality.

The second objective is to provide more support for multihospital HTM programs. The trend toward consolidation of independent hospitals into hospital systems has made such programs the norm. We are working to make HTM Benchmarking more effective for internal benchmarking (comparison of HTM programs within a hospital system) and for external benchmarking (comparison of HTM programs in the system to those outside the system).

We have also set an objective to promote benchmarking as a standard tool for HTM performance improvement. HTM Benchmarking has always been focused on the three-step process of measuring performance (using standard metrics), benchmarking performance (comparing our performance to peers), and improving performance (implementing best practices). Toward this objective, we are working with CMMS vendors to standardize relevant data elements and support integration of CMMS and benchmarking functions.

Valdez Bravo on Engaging the C-Suite

On June 8, while George Mills addressed the latest Joint Commission updates in the main ballroom, Valdez Bravo of the Portland VA Medical Center shared his insights on “Engaging the C-Suite: Leading from the Basement.” 

Twenty years ago, I attended the Army biomedical equipment repair school at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo. Therefore, this year’s AAMI conference, my first as a presenter, felt to me as if I was returning for a 20-year reunion. The conference was chock-full of familiar faces—not only from my time in the Army, but from professional societies, online publications, and across the VA where many of us work to serve America’s veterans.

My talk, “Engaging the C-Suite: Leading from the Basement,” was a call to action for the field to increase its profile through advocacy, communication, outreach, and partnering. Judging from attendees’ body language and questions and the feedback I received afterward, the message resonated strongly with attendees.

Industry professionals felt that the strategies I presented for furthering HTM—at the individual, departmental, and industry level—were sound, and the right moves for the field. Healthcare is in crisis. Organizations increasingly rely on the power of technology to increase access and quality in the midst of decreasing budgets. The role that HTM needs to play in order to ensure safety and good stewardship of organizational resources is clear to us, but healthcare leadership often fails to realize the full power of HTM. It is incumbent upon us as a field to change this.

For more information on these strategies, download my presentation, or give me a shout.