May was a month for 24×7 readers to air their views on perennial hot-button issues for the biomed community. Debate continued over the best name for the biomed discipline, in response to two recent articles on the subject. And as another comment showed, whatever you call biomeds, their relationship to IT remains fraught.

Declaring himself a traditionalist, Matthew Duvall replied to Binseng Wang’s article, “What’s in a Name? More Thoughts on What to Call Our Profession,” wrote, “For me, when you start changing the name of your group profession, you start showing your indecision, your lack of confidence in your chosen career.” When hospital staff want help, he said, “They don’t ask for the HTM guy, they want the ‘Fix it Guy.’ So just “leave the name alone,” he concluded.

By contrast, Valdez Bravo argued that healthcare technology management is “the best all-encompassing name for the field.” Commenting on David Harrington’s article “Healthcare Technology Management: The Wrong Title for What We Do So Well,”  he argued that the new name “sums up the wide variety of all that biomedical equipment support specialists and clinical engineers do. It’s not just about break/fix anymore. We need a name that speaks to all that we do – both front line techs and department managers alike. HTM is that name.”

Rick Schrenker, while disliking the term, has chosen not to fight it: “Having entered my seventh decade last October, I’ve decided the argument is not worth my energy and am leaving this discussion to others. What I will say is that when I was in the middle of my third decade, this engineer would not have chosen to attach his professional identity to technology management. Who knows, maybe the field will be better off by attracting only those who are called to that path? Not to worry. It will find out.”

Another topic much on the minds of 24×7 readers is the relationship with IT. In a preview of a presentation he will give next weekend at the AAMI annual conference, Stephen Grimes described community efforts to create a standard for “integrated medical and information technology service management.” Reader Greg Sabin, CBET, questioned the need for a standard: “If each department makes an effort to understand the standards and policies adhered to by the other, it all becomes transparent and operations go smoothly. Simple understandings of regulatory compliance needs, established process expectations, etc, will leave little doubt between departments about what needs to be done for all to operate smoothly together in the same environment.”

In response, Grimes offered two comments. First, he said, while consolidation of the two departments has been a trend for some time, he does not “believe merger is the only, nor necessarily the best, way to accomplish HTM/CE and IT collaboration.” Secondly, he wrote, while he has seen some successful collaborations between the two departments, “fully effective relationships are generally the exception rather than the rule.” As the technology each department “supports evolves and inevitably converges,” he wrote, “our industry must ensure those services born from different cultures learn to collaborate. That learning process can be unnecessarily long and fraught with missteps if we don’t at least have some guidance in the form of recognized best practices or standards.”