The next time you’re in a hospital or doctor’s office, take a look around. It’s almost a certainty that you will see a vast array of medical devices and technology, all of which play a crucial role in delivering quality healthcare.
The treatment and monitoring of patients today depends increasingly on the functionality and interoperability of a growing number of sophisticated devices both within and outside of a hospital’s walls. That fact is spurring the growth and evolution of a field known as healthcare technology management or HTM.
“When you or a loved one enters the hospital, you probably don’t even think about all the medical technology around you and how important it is for that equipment to work safely,” says Karen Waninger, corporate executive director of clinical engineering for Franciscan Health, a 14-hospital health system serving Indiana and Illinois. “It’s the role of the HTM professional to ensure that medical technology is working safely and effectively.”
Professionals within the HTM field can hold various titles, depending on their education, skills and place of employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the generic “medical equipment repairers” to describe those who “install, maintain and repair patient care equipment.” That description, however, doesn’t capture the full gamut of responsibilities, as many healthcare facilities turn to these professionals to guide the selection and purchase of healthcare technology, provide education to clinicians and sit on multidisciplinary hospital teams that focus on patient safety and improve the hospital’s overall environment of care. Demand for these workers is expected to grow as the population ages and medical equipment becomes more complex.