AAMI News August 2017

In Changing World, IT Skills Keep HTM Connected, Relevant

Furture HTM RolesHospitals are looking to attract employees with more information technology (IT) skills than ever before, based on the results of a survey conducted by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

“The 100 most frequent terms revealed that many job postings appeared to focus on documentation, standards, data, health information technology, and analytics,” according to a report in the May issue of the Journal of AHIMA. The authors also noted an increase in job postings looking for privacy and security skills. There is a similar trend for healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, according to Jenifer Brown, president of Health Tech Talent Management, LLC.

“There is a continuing need for biomed technicians who are also strong on the IT side,” Brown said. “But if a biomed has network and security training on top of that, that’s a major plus. In my opinion, if you wanted to get more training for future growth, I think that’s a smart route to take.”

Acquiring IT skills is more than just a way to grow professionally—it might also be a matter of survival, said Stephen Grimes, managing partner of Strategic Healthcare Technology Associates, LLC, during a recent webinar. Grimes is a member of AAMI’s HTM/IT Bridge Role Task Force.

“Old approaches to supporting traditional technologies don’t necessarily work for new technologies. And the rate of change means that the HTM community must prepare with continuing education to stay relevant,” he said. “If we as a profession don’t evolve, we will die and be replaced by others who are more capable of evolution and adaption.”

Grimes listed six skills he believes HTM professionals will need to acquire to stay relevant:

  • Strategic planning
  • Evaluation of newly evolved technologies
  • System of systems integration
  • Technology service management (e.g., ITIL)
  • Risk and security management
  • Incident/problem management

“Adoption of these new activities, such as risk and security management, will be necessary in order to integrate effectively with the converged medical and information technologies that we are seeing,” he said.

During the webinar, copresenter Clarice M. L. Holden, a supervisory biomedical engineer for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, outlined ways to acquire the skills necessary for today’s interconnected healthcare environment.

“Over time in one’s career, there’s a balance between learning in a classroom environment and experience on the job in order to keep your skills relevant. You really need both to succeed when you’ve got an ever-expanding hospital equipment environment,” said Holden, who also is a member of the task force.

Holden pointed out that the task force has developed a tool—anticipated to be published later this year—that “points out the various ways you can accrue knowledge” and “helps define where you can find resources and how to look for them.”

For ensuring network and operating system security, this includes enrolling in online courses; obtaining CompTIA’s Security+ certification; attending classes pertaining to ANSI/AAMI/IEC 80001, Application of risk management for IT networks incorporating medical devices; and speaking with your organization’s privacy and information security officer.

“For those in a technology-related industry like ours, education will not be something that you ever complete,” Grimes said. “The technology we support is evolving at such a rate that what you learn today will likely be quite different from what you will need to know to do your job five years, or even three years, from now. So, continuing education at a university or college, certificate programs, and industry programs have got to be part of your job if you are to remain relevant.”