WHO Medical Device Leader Cites Global HTM Challenges, Opportunities

Posted June 9, 2019

Adriana Velazquez Berumen
Adriana Velazquez Berumen

A lack of general awareness about healthcare technology management and the absence of a common nomenclature are among the global challenges affecting the HTM community, according to the head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical device unit.

At the same time, Adriana Velazquez Berumen, speaking Sunday at the AAMI Exchange in Cleveland, said HTM professionals can be crucial players in achieving one of the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals—good health and well-being—because modern healthcare is intrinsically aligned with technology. She noted that the WHO’s symbol for that goal is an electrocardiogram, a visual reminder of the role technology plays.

However, the HTM field faces challenges in making its full positive impact felt. One key need, she said, is for the field to broaden its messaging to more stakeholders, explaining how its work benefits patients and the general population.

To that end, Berumen called on HTM professionals to share their expertise with regulatory bodies, engage more with doctors and nurses, develop standards that can be accessible by all, set a research agenda with academics, and work with industry to help tell the story of technology’s impact on health.

Separately, Berumen said the lack of a common language to describe work within the field makes it hard to establish meaningful metrics and goals, especially in the regulatory context.

Especially important, she said, is the need to keep patients front and center.

“Don’t think about the equipment,” Berumen said. “Think about who that equipment serves.”

Berumen was one of five panelists who spoke at a presentation on HTM work around the world.

The other speakers were Roberto Ayala, a biomedical engineering director with the Ministry of Health in Mexico;  Tobey Clark, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Health Technology Management at the University of Vermont; Renato Garcia, a professor at Federal University in Brazil; and Rossana Rivas, a biomedical engineering professor and researcher in Peru, as well as a senior advisor with the WHO’s Collaborating Center for Health Technology Management.

Clark urged HTM professionals to contribute to international efforts to elevate the HTM field and improve healthcare overall.

“Share your knowledge, volunteer, and contribute,” Clark said.

At this year’s Exchange, AAMI premiered a complete track of global presentations, underscoring a commitment to engaging the international health technology community.