Blurred Lines: Healthcare Technology Management’s Future Tied to IT

There is no better time for the health IT community to come together under one umbrella to raise national awareness of the benefits information technology can bring to the US health system. National Health IT (NHIT) Week is a nationwide awareness week focused on the value of health IT. Each year, NHIT Week Partners educate industry and policy stakeholders on the value of health IT for the US healthcare system. Every Tuesday leading up to NHIT Week, our valued partners will share their voice and experience on how they demonstrate the value of health IT.

Walk into any doctor’s office or hospital and what do you see? Patients and staff, of course, but just as apparent will be an array of technology on display, whether in the form of monitors, infusion pumps, or diagnostic devices—all of which collect, store, retrieve, or send information in some fashion.  Quite simply, in today’s world if you’re talking about healthcare, you’re talking about information technology (IT). The two are inseparable.

On its own, that simple fact is reason enough to take note of National Health IT Week. If we are to successfully tackle the myriad challenges and opportunities in front of us when it comes to healthcare, it’s to our collective benefit to take a minute to ponder the extraordinary role that IT plays in that world. At AAMI, we have a more personal reason to acknowledge this special week: the professional lives of our members are tied more and more to the IT realm.

In hospitals, the lines between healthcare technology management (HTM) and IT professionals are increasingly blurred, and in some facilities they are almost invisible. On the industry side, it’s flat-out impossible to innovate and raise the bar in providing life-enhancing or life-saving devices without IT.

In short, HTM is about health IT, just as the design and development of new medical products is about health IT. At AAMI, we are working in collaboration with the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) and HIMSS to determine how best to serve our joint stakeholder interests. 

Another way to think of health IT is through the prism of big data. That’s been a hot buzzword for several years, and its application in healthcare is only going to grow. We have the ability to collect more data than ever before. The challenge for all of us is translating the massive amounts of data into actionable information.

Some organizations are already doing that, using data analysis to guide both clinical decisions and operational matters, such as maintenance strategies for medical equipment. HTM professionals can be leaders in their organizations by joining forces with their IT counterparts to help ensure the best possible collection and use of data. That last point is underscored if you consider the fact that more job postings for hospitals emphasize the need for IT skills.

HTM’s future is intrinsically tied to IT, and those who want to succeed will look for opportunities to learn and acquire new skills that can help translate the use of data into positive action. As our profession evolves, there’s no cause for alarm, as long as we build new partnerships and see the growth of health IT for what it is: a grand opportunity for all those who work in healthcare technology to spread their wings and soar.