Julie Kirst

Julie Kirst, Editor

On any given day, clinical/biomedical engineering departments around the world are putting their best efforts forward as they evaluate, calibrate, and repair myriad medical devices to ensure their overall safe operation. However, one of the concerns I regularly hear is that this crucial work, which ultimately protects the patient and advances a hospital’s goals, is often taken for granted. Visibility, it seems, doesn’t naturally coincide with the importance of the work.

A few years ago, the Medical Equipment & Technology Association (META), an organization for professionals who service and support equipment in the health care industry, surveyed the profession with the goal of creating a universal name to readily identify those who work in the profession. When META finalized the results, it selected the name “biomed.”

In the past year, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) set out to find a universal name for the industry that would reflect the current profession and its new directions. After extensive meetings and surveys, the committee chose the name “health care technology management” for the profession.

It seems no matter what the individual or the profession itself is called, what matters is the day-to-day presence and acknowledgement that creates visibility, which can lead to departmental support for funds.

As Dan DeMaria, CBET, says in this month’s feature, “Spending to Save,” in his department the phrase, “Perception is reality” is often heard. “If we ‘sell’ our department—meaning, we teach senior clinical staff and executive leadership that clinical engineering provides a valuable service, that we employ highly skilled professionals, and that we can provide excellent customer service and do so at a cost savings—then the conversation with executive leadership becomes more manageable,” he says.

How is your department perceived? If you’ve been low-key, May offered the perfect opportunity to change that as departments celebrated Healthcare Technology Management Week 2012. AAMI recognized various departments’ celebrations, including EMH Elyria Medical Center in Elyria, Ohio, where biomeds set up a display in the cafeteria that included photos of the members of the department performing various jobs—all while wearing wraparound sunglasses. The extra addition being a play on the Men in Black movie, since the team wears navy blue lab coats and has become known as the “Men in Blue.”

While the “week” offered a creative way to get visible, everyday activities to increase the perception of your department include making rounds, developing constructive relationships with clinicians, participating in committees, and serving up regular customer service.

In his book Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet, Ron Kaufman offers tips to “Serve UP Satisfaction.” According to Kaufman, when any company receives a complaint, it can treat the complaining customer like he/she is a pain in the neck, or use the complaint as an opportunity to improve. He says it’s important to give positive recognition and show appreciation for the complaining customer’s time, effort, communication, feedback, and suggestions. Other suggestions include not getting defensive and acknowledging what’s important to the customer.

As departments continue to “serve UP” dedication and a commitment to safety, adding attentive customer service to the mix can only enhance visibility.

Julie Kirst