Hospitals Create New Positions and Titles
More hospitals are incorporating device integration into healthcare technology management leadership positions, a move that could signal new opportunities for the field, two industry veterans say.
Some hospitals have started including the term into high-level titles, and others have hired positions solely responsible for integration, says Jennifer Jackson, who joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, in July 2011 as director of clinical engineering and device integration.
“I think that hospitals recognize device integration is a great enhancement to clinician workflow,” she says.
Jackson says Cedars-Sinai included device integration in her title “to serve as internal marketing. We are trying to educate the hospital system that this is not the same clinical engineering department anymore.”
Carol Davis-Smith, who in January became vice president of clinical technology for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, says the focus on integration could lead to healthcare technology management professionals taking on a greater role in their facilities.
She is responsible for lifecycle management and device integration in addition to overseeing clinical engineering for Kaiser’s 37 hospitals, which are spread out over nine states and the District of Columbia.
“This is not about the shiny objects,” she says, referring to the interoperable technology. “This is about understanding the clinical and business goals of the organization, and then learning how to strategically deploy or use technology to meet those objectives.”
At Cedars-Sinai, Jackson says she created a “small subgroup to focus on integrated device systems,” one that is dedicated to defining how the facility supports systems that may be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One example is a medical device data system (MDDS), which the FDA classifies as anything that transfers, stores, converts, or displays device data. The agency requires all entities that significantly modify or create an MDDS to register as a manufacturer and install a quality system to ensure the product is safe and effective.
Another part of these integration-focused positions is fostering collaboration between clinical engineering and information technology (IT), says Davis-Smith, chair of AAMI’s Technology Management Council and a member of AAMI’s Board of Directors.
“One of the things we talk about at Kaiser Permanente is coproduction,” she says.
“What that means is that one department isn’t the sole owner of a system anymore. The healthcare technology management folks have to work hand in hand with IT.”
Another large focus of Davis-Smith and Jackson’s respective positions is risk management, especially when it comes to integration. “My facility is doing a risk assessment now,” Jackson says. “Every time a new device is installed my team asks questions about what can go wrong with it.”
Jackson is also working on obtaining a small space for an integration laboratory where engineers can have “a simulated environment to test workflows and software, and understand what might go wrong before a device goes into production. I hope to open it by the end of the summer.”
From: AAMI News: June 2012, Vol. 47, No. 6
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