Larry Sheppard

We are experiencing a changing dynamic, not just in our industry, but in health care as a whole. However, this can become a great opportunity if we look at being more involved in the solution instead of the problem. We all know that change can be difficult and people react to change differently—they either make the change with enthusiasm, with reluctance but agreement, or with total objection to the change, and this type of individual puts his/her career in jeopardy by not adapting to the changes that we all may face in the near future.

Doing more with less and working a little harder to achieve our goals is what our ancestors did, and it is well within our abilities to do the same. We have created tools of efficiency with automated databases and test equipment that have given us extra time to do more. Remember the days before laptops, iPads, smartphones, and RFID? How did we ever get it done? This is not an 8 to 5 job—and it never has been. Health care operates 24/7, and in today’s world, if we don’t look at ways to do more, validate what we do, and be accountable for what we do, administration will look at us as a cost center and not a value-added service. The tree that bears no fruit is usually cut down for firewood. We have the ability to:

1) Demonstrate our value. Look good, be responsive, be reassuring through courtesy and competence, be understanding, and, most of all, be reliable. Do what you said you would do by making a promise to your customer that you are driving the solution. This will create an internal reference that validates your value within the organization and makes you a person that any manager would want to invest in.

2) Create growth opportunities. Look at areas around your account to expand your department’s exposure, which may create growth opportunities for additional personnel. Know that the abilities you have, and maybe some additional training, may make you the “go to” person on that equipment. Look at the vendors in your hospital; there have to be some services that many departments can expand into. Establish a business plan to promote growth opportunities. Discuss this with your peers and your management.

3) Reduce reliance on outside service costs. Your salary and benefits are approximately one-fourth to one-third of the hourly rate that is charged by outside vendors to service equipment in your facility. Reducing the reliance on the outside vendor is paramount. What management wants to pay a BMET $50,000 a year to just do PMs and electrical safety? Look at opportunities to reduce the outside vendor costs, and this could increase your training budget and your salary. Administration looks at departments that are essential to bringing in patient revenue, and if you are not in the revenue-generating stream, you need to validate your existence by what you contribute to the net revenue of the hospital. Even a not-for-profit hospital does not mean “not profitable.”

These are what will assist health care facilities in achieving their financial goals that secure their health care goals.

We have always had a compensation issue, and there are many reasons for that: geography, experience, and the value that personnel bring to the table. Some ISOs have hired inexperienced personnel, some hospitals have tenured personnel that have not been allowed to technically grow and therefore have become more of a liability than an asset, and many hospitals have been exposed to market studies for their geographical regions or comparison to facilities with similar job descriptions. Occasionally, a department’s reporting structure may not allow its personnel’s earning potential to be more than what the governing department personnel earn. A good job still pays better than unemployment, and a good manager will always find a way to pay a good employee.

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These issues do significantly contribute to stressful situations that we all work to alleviate. However, if we emphasize that we need to make our business “easy to do business with,” and if we cast team members into roles of responsibility that assign departmental goals and responsibilities to reach attainable results, we greatly reduce the amount of stress and we unitedly receive rewards for accomplishments. Sometimes old ideas are sacred cows and they do trample innovative thinking. Look to re-evaluating what you are doing that can be changed. Why PM something to death? Is there as much risk as you are assessing? Get to know your customers’ needs that simplify their working lives, and they will simplify yours. Take ownership of your customer. When it’s your responsibility, it’s your performance, integrity, and ultimately, your career. No one is asking to cut corners to compromise regulatory responsibilities, but when your customers are in your corner you have value to your organization, and that makes you worth more. In today’s employment environment, what you bring in ethics, knowledge, and work habits will ultimately determine your employment tenure.

I am very thankful for the team of personnel that I work with and the health care administration that we report to. They have seen the demonstrated effort and results that we have provided, and they have rewarded us as employees for doing our jobs.

Larry Sheppard is the director of FirstCall Clinical Technology Services at East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Tyler, Tex. For more information, contact .

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