It’s a Small World After All: Forum Participants Identify Common Global HTM Challenges

Posted June 2, 2018

2018 Global ForumThe need for greater numbers of trained and qualified technicians, a lack of access to affordable replacement parts, and low visibility of and appreciation for the field are not just challenges healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals face in the United States, but also around the world, according to participants at the first Global Forum, held Friday in conjunction with the AAMI 2018 Conference & Expo in Long Beach, CA. 

“[Healthcare] is not a U.S. problem; it’s not an any other continent problem—it’s a problem that affects every human being on the planet,” said AAMI President and CEO Robert Jensen during his introductory remarks. “Let’s think globally about maturing the professional practice, improving the identification of and methods for developing the next generation of health technology professionals, and increasing the value and impact of those technical professionals on cost, quality, and safety.”

The event, which was hosted by AAMI in partnership with the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) and the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering’s Clinical Engineering Division (IFMBE/CED), gathered more than 100 participants from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Canada, the United States, Asia, and Europe to discuss the global state of the HTM field and a path for moving the field forward. 

“If we continue to follow the old paradigm, it’s likely we will fail,” Stephen Grimes, a managing partner and principal consultant for the U.S.-based Strategic Health Care Technology Associates, LLC, told attendees. “We’re going to have to do a trajectory reset to keep up with how technology is developing.”

Although HTM professionals in the represented regions shared a number of common challenges, there also is a “disparity” between different countries’ needs, observed Nathan Lynch, a New Orleans-based healthcare technology manager.

For example, hospitals in Haiti struggle to power medical equipment since only about 25% of the population has access to electricity, and generators can be unreliable, explained Tom Monaghan, director of biomedical engineering at St. Boniface Hospital, located in Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti.

In places like Venezuela, corruption is a major challenge, according to Ricardo Silva, PhD, CCE, head of the healthcare technology unit at Simon Bolivar University. “Corruption is built deep into our DNA,” he said. “We need a paradigm shift to break from the current corruption-based system to a more transparent system.”

At the other end of the spectrum, in Japan, a declining population, shrinking hospitals, and strong HTM educational programs have created a need to expand the opportunities available to those in the HTM field.

Looking ahead, AAMI, ACCE, and IFMBE/CED plan to use the information collected during the Global Forum to help guide future collaborative efforts to collect data and meet worldwide HTM challenges.

“We really need partners who are willing to share information from their region’s perspective,” said Bradley Schoener, vice president of innovation at AAMI.

This collaboration was welcomed by participants who left the forum feeling “energized,” “hopeful,” “encouraged,” and “committed.”