What's The Next Big Idea for Clinical Engineers?
As you may know, ECRI has done lots of work establishing the guidelines and principals for equipment maintenance and management, and we continue to do so.
From quality audits of hospital-based clinical engineering departments to coordinating a healthcare systems choice of service providers, we are actively leading improvement, safety and cost management projects. In fact, the recent FDA Report on the
Quality, Safety, and Effectiveness of Servicing of Medical Devices concurs with ECRI Institute recommendations that additional regulatory requirements regarding the servicing of medical equipment by entities other than original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are not necessary.
While the FDA may let the maintenance dogs lie low for the next few years, the health technology management field is still faced with many challenges.
What’s next for biomedical equipment technicians, biomedical engineers, clinical engineers, medical device cybersecurity analysts, medical network analysts and others in the field?
A brief look with my ECRI colleagues identified a few ideas:
Quality Systems Management — Medical device manufacturers are familiar with QSM theory and requirements; it's in the best interest of independent service organizations and in-house clinical engineering programs to be much more familiar — and soon!
Data Scientists — or at least data scientist's capabilities – will become ever more important. With real time location systems and clinical alarm middleware, to just name two systems, the amount of data generated by medical devices is growing exponentially. Will clinical engineering be the guide to cut through the noise and provide actionable programs?
Medical Device Cybersecurity Management — while in place at some leading organizations with the staffing capability, it will be ever more important at all healthcare systems to provide practical management of medical device cybersecurity. There are a lot of theoretical solutions out there and a lot of suppliers who claim to solve it all, but the reality is that there is no silver bullet or single supplier that can do it. Many suppliers provide a useful piece to the cyber puzzle, and Clinical Engineering may be the organization to coordinate them all into a wider strategy of practical cybersecurity management.
Roboticists – with robots of all types being used to deliver supplies, greet and direct visitors, and to perform surgeries, clinical engineering will need to be adept with roboticist design and service.
In the end, clinical engineering departments will continue to be the jack of all trades, which in my opinion, is what makes the career so very interesting.