Biomedical engineers and IT systems managers: a possible new collaboration

The widespread computerisation of biomedical devices is causing the skills of IT systems managers and biomedical engineers to merge. It is therefore essential that these professionals work together to create a synergy to ensure that hospital healthcare data is well managed. As such, policy frameworks will have to define each one’s new responsibilities in the near future to make sure they coordinate smoothly.

The landscape of biomedical engineering has changed significantly in recent years as a result of technological progress. Equipment is becoming more and more specialised which means that biomedical engineers (BMEs) are required to have more scientific skills than ever before. This is especially true for connecting the devices which these engineers have to manage.

Merging the skills of IT systems managers and Biomedical Engineers

Most of these devices are now having features added to them to instantly send healthcare data to prescribing doctors or electronic patient records. Biomedical engineers and IT systems managers, who have previously been working in two separate worlds, are now seeing their skills overlap and some of their responsibilities crossing over into the other’s expertise. This trend is creating a new way to organise hospital departments.

 

New roles for biomedical engineers within health and care regions

Health and care regions are developing and how healthcare providers are organised is evolving. This means that there is more work to pool activities for administrative functions which is especially true of purchasing and IT systems – two skills which are now part of the BMEs’ roles. Health and care regions are now having to think about how to redefine where these workers stand and often aim to create a regional biomedical engineering position, as is the case at Châlons-sur-Saone Hospital. This could very well mean that their operational scope is extended.

Creating synergy for good healthcare data management

BMEs and IT system managers are still expected to come together and cooperate to create a synergy to manage inpatient healthcare data well. IT systems are becoming more and more complex by the day, especially when we think about how common it is for biomedical devices to be computerised and how managers need to acquire new skills to make them work properly. The aim is to ensure that their connectivity processes are managed well and that there is a good level of interoperability. BMEs, on the other hand, can assert their expertise on maintenance choices and negotiations about purchasing devices. As Marc Pommier, President of the AFIB recently said in an interview, BMEs are now able to manage operating software and device connectivity modules.

A new topic to discuss when setting out policy frameworks

As a result, BMEs and IT systems managers will have to find a way of working together by building on each other’s skills. However, they will still have to face up to certain constraints – particularly financial ones. Each other’s budgets will still be separate and the amount of funding will be very different. This merger will also be subject to discussions about management. Which budget will be affected? Who will take care of the risk management? Who will take responsibility which activities? Policy frameworks that institutions draw up in the near future will certainly have to take these considerations into account.

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