Julie Kirst

Julie Kirst, Editor

Last year, a wide cross section of the profession attended a “Future Forum,” hosted by AAMI. Among other decisions, a vision for the future and a name for the profession emerged: The Health Care Technology Management (HTM) profession. This September, AAMI once again hosted a meeting, called Future Forum II.

Building on last year’s forum, this year’s group of more than 20 HTM professionals agreed on a series of steps to advance the field, which included initiating more of a connection with the C-suite by providing reports that will give concrete data, which can help develop budgets; creating a path for an entry-level HTM professional to advance in the field, with an emphasis on the financial aspects of running a department and using assets and money wisely; and improving the ongoing collaboration with IT. The steps to advance the field also focused on a need for uniform job titles and descriptions. According to AAMI, toward the end of the forum much of the discussion centered on the question of job titles and descriptions, with a general belief that a lack of consistency can undermine efforts to win broader recognition for HTM professionals.

It was inevitable that this topic would once again come up. Lively debates periodically take place on this topic, including last year when the original forum took place. While the attendees did not reach a decision on a job title for an entry-level position this year, they did consider health care technology technician or health care technology specialist.

They came closer to a decision on a standard job title for a department leader: director or chief of HTM. According to AAMI, the forum covered so many other topics that there wasn’t time to give this more attention, so a task force is in the works to further explore the job titles/job descriptions issue (Find out more about what took place at Future Forum II: www.aami.org/news/2012/091212_Future_Forum_II.html.

Based on past Biomedtalk discussions, some of you reading this probably think, “Who cares? I’m a biomed no matter what you decide to name me.” Or, you believe there are many more “major” issues that need attention, such as getting more help, training on new devices and processes, etc. And while many put forth viable reasons in previous debates about why not to focus on this, one reason to pay attention to it rests with another concern I have begun to hear about again—a possible lack of new biomeds as more people retire.

In August 2007, our “Striving for Standardization” article addressed why a unified name benefits the industry. If you want new people to join the profession—and get hired once they graduate—they have to have a way to “find” the industry and the jobs. When hospitals and departments have different names for a BMET, how will a candidate know that job might apply to them? In these “technology” days, search engines use keywords, and if the job title is all over the map, it is only hindering those looking for work—your potential colleagues.

I know the forum participants are considering a variation on the profession’s new name, but I’m not sure it defines who you are. Health care, yes; technology, one aspect of it, and yes you manage it, but who you truly are are medical device specialists—from the cradle to the grave. Beginning with evaluating specs for purchases, to assessment for future needs, installation, calibration, repair, connectivity, and forms of recycling at end of life. Perhaps this will become a part of my elevator speech when people ask me what I do: “I’m the editor of the leading information source for medical device specialists.” Simple, yet all-encompassing. I like it; how about you? Let us know and respond to our October 2 blog at 24x7mag.com/blog.