To all Biomeds and friends of Biomeds
Patrick K. Lynch CBET, CCE, CHTM
Note: The first few pages of this are introductory materials. But I and the biomed profession need you to write a very important email the AHA about our future. If you do not have time to read this, go to the bottom of this letter [WHAT YOU MUST DO!] and just write the email.
Introduction: We are at a sensitive place in our profession. Our future existence is being threatened. Various entities would rather have us not be able to maintain our own hospital’s medical equipment. They would rather lock us out through various means. Many of their tactics are legal today, but I consider them greedy and underhanded. They, as you all know, include password protection, restriction of service materials, limited or no availability to meaningful service schools, restricted sales of repair parts, refusal to sell parts unless a service contract is in place, $6,000 (or more) minimum zone charge if you don’t have a service contract, and many more restrictive practices that cannot be listed here.
The current state of affairs: Hospitals are all on their own. Each must do the best they can to negotiate for future rights to service their own equipment. If they fail to negotiate the proper clauses and protections, the manufacturer of the equipment will exercise every legal (and sometimes illegal, as we saw in the recent GE case in Texas) means to force the hospital to use only their services, at a cost that is many multiples of the true cost. This only serves to add millions of dollars to the manufacturer’s profits while adding many millions of dollars to the cost of healthcare in the United States – healthcare that YOU AND I ARE PAYING FOR! And because of current laws, and the lack of any centralized negotiating body, hospitals are totally at the mercy of these companies, who often provide much poorer-quality service to the customer than a good in-house program. In-house programs are 1) always at the main hospital. They do not have to schedule a visit or travel from another hospital. They can respond to the troublesome equipment in a matter of minutes, often while the patient is still being treated, and resolve the problem without ever the need to cancel or reschedule the patient’s procedure or surgery. 2) They know the hospital, the departments, the personnel, the routines, and the equipment intimately. Because their entire professional world is a single hospital, everything about it becomes very personal.
When a trouble call comes, it is not an anonymous “Hospital J, Model XYZ, Serial number 87654” machine, but it is “Room 7 in main radiology where they do the fractures of the little kids from the ER, and it is Mary calling.” The call, the people, the problem, the urgency, the response, the passion to restore full operation is personal. This is a crucial difference between in-house and outside contracted service.
The future: With the current lackadaisical laws, and the fact that the manufacturers and their powerful lobbies and trade organizations are introducing new laws regularly in state legislatures in attempt to restrict or stop anyone but the original manufacturer from servicing medical equipment. And they are almost succeeding in some places. They have been convincing well-intentioned but technically ignorant lawmakers that to allow anyone but the original manufacturer to service medical equipment would cause many deaths to innocent people, because nobody but the manufacturer knows how to do it right. If these laws pass, our jobs and our roles, and our needs and our jobs can become unnecessary. We may be out of jobs. And hospitals lose billions of dollars nationals from equipment maintenance costs.
The possibility: I have had conversations with the leadership of many local and national HTM (biomedical) associations. We have all agreed that since the start of all local associations, no local biomedical association has achieved the goal of significantly changing a single major problem that is plaguing the biomedical profession. The large goals are just too big for them. Even the largest are not prepared to take on a multi-state, multi-year battle to work with legislators and change laws to guarantee open access to whatever we need to maintain our own medical devices. Several problems cause this: 1. Not enough money in any single state association for find such a fight. 2. Not enough people to do the work that is needed on all the fronts that must be engaged to wage a battle such as this. 3. An entirely volunteer organization simply does not have the continuity of leadership, personnel, and activity level to engage long-term, intense campaigns of any type. With volunteers (I have been one for over 37 years continuously), life, family, work and health all get in the way. Activity levels rise and ebb. There is not a torch bearer who can carry the fight and the message forward year after year.
But this CAN happen in an organization with paid staff. When you have people whose paycheck is dependent upon accomplishing certain milestones, performing certain tasks, and contacting a certain number of people, the mission is carried on, regardless of outside pressures and events.
Our proposition: Join the American Hospital Association. I am speaking with them about creating a special PSA (Personal Membership Group) specially for the HTM community. It would operate and be structured like ASHE (American Society for Hospital Engineers), and be for HTM. Here is the vision: Every local biomedical association in the US would become a chapter of this AHA Association. All of your members would join the AHA Association. I believe that since it is a part the AHA, hospitals administration would be more likely to allow membership to be paid with hospital funds. In return, the AHA Association would provide a wealth of benefits for us. The greatest of which would be constant monitoring of the bills introduces into every state legislature across the United States. If a threatening, or unfavorable bill is introduced, we would have the time and resources (through AHA leadership and name recognition) to wage a battle to defeat it).
They could bring our message about manufacturer restrictions directly to the hospitals and get action AT A NATIONAL LEVEL. No longer would only the systems with big purchasing leverage and the foresight to negotiate well have the advantage. Every hospital could have the freedom to manage its medical equipment as it sees fit.
By being a part of a central organization, we could centrally produce marketing materials, member educational videos and presentations. Being a part of AHA would allow us in HTM access to other parts of the healthcare professionals that are in AHA. Below is text directly from the AHA website that tell about the PMGs and what they offer. I think the HTM would benefit being added to this list.
What about AAMI? AMMI doesn’t change. I have been in contact with AAMI leadership. They, in fact, suggested AHA as a better place for this sort of relationship. AAMI does not wish to change their support of the HTM community, nor are they threatened by a proposed AHA Association. This sort of advocacy is not something that they are prepared to undertake.
Summary: Society leaders and members agree. Everyone that I have spoken with about this plan agree that the current situation is getting us nowhere. And when faced with the options, they all agree that AHA is the place that will give HTM the greatest clout and stature going forward.
What you MUST do in the next 10 days! Last week (June 22) I spoke with the Executive Director of ASHE, Mr. PJ Andrus, as well as their 2017 President, Mr. Russell Harbaugh. They are preparing to take our request to the AHA Board within the month. As a business entity, part of the board’s concern will be financial viability and finances. Especially important is that they have a good estimate of how many people will join this new association? If it is 50, they won’t even consider it. If it is 10,000, it’s a different ballgame.
I want you to write a letter to
PJ Andrus, CAE
American Society for Healthcare Engineering
155 N. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606
In this letter, please convey your interest in affiliation in a new society supporting the HTM community. TELL HIM THAT YOU WILL JOIN THE NEW ASSOCIATION. If you are a member of a local association, mention that association and how many members it has. This is all about numbers and how many potential members a new association can bring to AHA. If you are an officer of Board member, tall that, also, and how you support this move on behalf of your association.
Get your co-workers to write letters. Say that you will join the new association!
And these all should be send before July 10. If there ever was anything that our career futures depended upon, this is it. Your letter or email could mean the difference between having a biomed future and not having one.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
AHA Personal Membership Groups
Through its Personal Membership Groups, the AHA is ready to assist health care personnel with tools, services and educational opportunities focused on their professional growth and development. By becoming active members, individuals can enrich their professional skills and capabilities. Participation in an AHA personal membership group can also give the competitive edge that will engage organizational wide performance and deepen staff commitment to the organization.
In addition, the AHA Certification Center recognizes the mastery of well-defined bodies of knowledge through professional certification.
Who We Are
The societies are organized around distinct professional groups and range in size from 1000 to 10,000 individual members. These professional societies are:
- American Society for Healthcare Engineering(ASHE)
- American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration(ASHHRA)
- American Society for Healthcare Risk Management(ASHRM)
- Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management(AHRMM)
- Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals (AHVRP)
- Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE)
- At Large AHA Membership for Healthcare Management/Consulting Professionals
- Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development(SHSMD)
What We Offer
- Professional Development: Professional educational opportunities include annual conferences with numerous tracks and topical focuses to timely seminars on specific areas of interest, leadership programs, webinars and online education.
- Advocacy:Legislative and regulatory issues specific to the professional groups are addressed through the efforts of the societies or in concert with AHA’s government affairs activities. These members provide the technical expertise necessary to address issues that either the society or AHA has identified as important to health care management.
- Publications:Profession-specific publications include: newsletters, magazines, background papers, legislative updates, bulletins, broadcast fax and books.
- Networking:PMG membership and participation facilitates contact and sharing throughout the field and across the country.
- Leadership Opportunities:For those who want to actively participate, there is an abundance of volunteer opportunities spanning numerous area of service where members can develop and hone their skills in this area.
Strategic Relationship to AHA
The Personal Membership Groups (PMGs) of the AHA contribute to the AHA by providing education and resources through their membership base to improve hospitals and healthcare organization performance. The staff and leaders of the PMGs work to advance their membership through timely and relevant educational programs, advisories and publications and through forums for networking and professional development. To advance the industry, the PMGs leverage their membership network and subject matter expertise to support new and evolving practices to improve hospital and healthcare organization performance. Also, the PMGs generate financial resources that support the AHA’s vision of a society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health.
The AHA Certification Center (AHA-CC) designs and administers Certification Programs to recognize mastery of well-defined bodies of knowledge within healthcare management disciplines. In addition, the AHA-CC provides contracted services for project management and quality assurance to the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) in support of its Nurse Executive and Nurse Manager Certification Programs.