AAMI News January 2018

AAMI Plans for a Global Future

Robert Jensen
Robert Jensen
Phil Cogdill
Phil Cogdill

2017 marked a number of milestones for AAMI—the association’s 50th anniversary and the approval of a new three-year strategic plan, to name two. With the start of a new year, AAMI President and CEO Robert Jensen and Phil Cogdill, chair of the AAMI Board of Directors and director of quality sterilization and microbiology at Medtronic, took a look at where the association is headed.

AAMI celebrated 50 years in 2017. What stood out for each of you in terms of how the association marked that anniversary?

Cogdill: A very exciting achievement for our 50th anniversary was reaching more than $115,000 in fundraising for the AAMI Foundation Scholarship Program, which exceeded the original goal of $100,000. Thanks to our members’ support, we’ll be increasing the number of scholarships from five to seven next year. (See related story)

Jensen: I’ve worked for several organizations with long-standing histories, including the Boy Scouts (107 years old), Boys Town (100 years old), the U.S. Marines (242 years old), MITRE Corporation (59 years old), and now AAMI (50 years old). A compelling and common hallmark of these organizations is that their founders and early partners were deeply thoughtful people who had a strategic vision that would influence not only the economic sectors they were working in, but the very culture and fabric of our nation.

Each of these organizations also honors its heritage in tangible ways. For example, in any of them you’ll see photos of founders and key influencers, national organizational awards, and celebrations of anniversaries. So what really stood out for me was that AAMI, as a relatively modest-sized business compared to some others, truly embraced the heritage and roots of the organization and celebrated it in a way that rivaled the U.S. Marine Corps birthday celebrations I’ve been to in the past.

AAMI starts its 51st year with a new three-year strategic plan. Before we get to the plan itself, Rob, could you tell us about the process that led to its creation?

Jensen: We leveraged some of the effective processes used by AAMI in the past and combined them with contemporary best practices in strategic planning to develop a repeatable, scalable methodology tailored to AAMI. For example, we continued to use a strategic planning subcommittee to ensure we were gathering top-down data and inputs from a variety of stakeholders without burdening the entire Board of Directors, as well as gathering input from the staff. We also continued to use a strategic planning consultant to ensure we did not fall into any kind of group-think patterns. We added a best practice of clarifying boundaries between guidance from the Board of Directors and staff responsibilities. Finally, we limited our goals and objectives to three of each, narrowing the organizational focus to drive success.

In short, we involved more people and engaged them multiple times. The result was the kind of challenge any organization would like to have: making choices from a plethora of excellent ideas suggested by passionate, knowledgeable, and committed people.

Phil, how do you feel the plan positions AAMI for the future?

Cogdill: I believe we’re in a good place. The plan was based on the vision and mission statements we crafted. The vision statement declares that “AAMI advances the safe and effective use of technology to improve health.” And our mission statement says that “AAMI leads global collaboration in the development, management, and use of safe and effective health technology.” These are our guiding pillars, and they will well position AAMI to address the challenges facing healthcare in the future.

One objective of the plan is to build AAMI’s global constituency. Why is that important?

Jensen: Clearly the world in all economic sectors is getting much smaller, and health is no different. AAMI’s Standards Department has been working globally for many years, but the standards program is only one way in which we could have a positive impact on health technology. Expanding our global constituency is good for our members, many of whom are already global companies. Having global relationships, understanding international trends, and identifying ways in which we can support our members on that bigger stage get increasingly more important each year. That said, a global constituency is also good for AAMI’s business. If we can effectively understand demand in other countries, we can keep AAMI’s business strong with an even more diversified base.

Cogdill: AAMI has been developing standards for the United States for five decades, and over the past two decades many of those have been used as the foundation for International Organization for Standards (ISO) documents. This has positioned AAMI to be more global with its training programs and its healthcare technology management (HTM) programs. We are excited to develop relationships with organizations that want to partner with AAMI and benefit from our knowledge and expertise in the safe and effective use of technology to improve health.

The strategic plan also talks about strengthening the HTM field. How does AAMI plan to do that?

Jensen: The Board of Directors and I have had several discussions about increasing our product and service lines to better support the HTM field, and a big first step in doing that is finding a qualified senior-level individual to lead it. So, we have opened up a new vice president of HTM position at AAMI.

While we want to get this new VP’s input as soon as he or she is hired, we already have several strategies in development to strengthen the field, including the development of additional educational offerings related to topics such as leadership. We’re also looking into possible new certifications for HTM professionals. It’s a very exciting time for the HTM field. If we can be successful together, there will be a sea change in the value of and opportunities for these professionals in the future.

If the strategic plan is successful, how will the AAMI of tomorrow be different from the AAMI of today?

Jensen: I think the AAMI of tomorrow will enjoy greater recognition both domestically and internationally. I believe the HTM line of products and services will represent more of the organization’s efforts than it does today. In general, I think there will be an expansion of participation in AAMI programs, such as standards development and education. Perhaps more importantly, I think with some planned changes we intend to make to infrastructure, we’ll be more efficient, effective, and agile to meet the contemporary needs of our members.

And if we achieve our biggest aspirations, we will be able to begin tailoring the AAMI online engagement experience to our different member types so they can create a custom view of their offerings based on their specific roles.

Cogdill: I believe that the AAMI of tomorrow will be known worldwide as a go-to organization for the development, management, and use of safe and effective health technology. In addition, AAMI University will be helping to educate and certify HTM and sterilization professionals worldwide so that they can help improve healthcare delivery.

Rob, you now have one year under your belt as AAMI’s president and CEO. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about AAMI during that time?

Jensen: The most important lesson I’ve learned has been understanding the full impact that a small staff and small army of dedicated volunteers can make. I recall in my early days really wondering how it all got done. I knew the mission, policies, financials, and all of the other elements of the business “blocking and tackling” when I first arrived, but it was a few weeks before I knew that the team of staff and volunteers had a synergy and dedication that would out produce many other organizations.

When someone asks me what AAMI does, and I tell them, their next question is usually “Wow, how big is your staff?” I usually answer, “About 40 …” and then I pause while their eyes get wide. Of course the fun part is then adding “… and thousands of extraordinary, very sharp, and devoted volunteers.”

Phil, from your vantage point as chair, how did the leadership transition play out, and what are your hopes for AAMI for the next several years?

Cogdill: The transition from Mary Logan as president and CEO to Rob Jensen has been seamless. Rob is clearly going to build on the legacy that Mary left and help guide AAMI to new levels of leadership in advancing the safe and effective use of technology to improve health.

Rob brings vision, strategy, passion, disciplined execution of goals, cost control, and leadership excellence at all levels, which will be seen in the execution of the new three-year strategic plan. Rob is an excellent communicator, and the Board of Directors has already seen enhancements in Board materials and Board meeting practices, which allow for a greater focus on strategic items that will help guide AAMI into the future.

The future is indeed bright for AAMI, its members, the healthcare technology community, and for patients worldwide.