Why are some in our profession debating Biomedical Engineering, device connectivity and IT convergence? The history of technology has been one of growth and change. Persons who do not grow and change along with technology are destined to become obsolete. Let me draw you an analogy; in the late 1940s early 1950s electronic engineers and technicians had been trained in vacuum tube theory. As solid state devices were gradually introduced into the marketplace there was no room for debate concerning whether or not to learn the new solid state theory. Technicians and engineers had two options: they could adapt and learn or they could become dinosaurs. Change is what it is all about. Most people in the various fields of technology understand and embrace this concept. We grow and we learn because that is where the joy is.
Each day, we witness more device convergence. It occurs not just in medicine, but everywhere. My neighbor, using his cell phone, can adjust his home thermostat from any location in the world. OnStar equipped vehicles can send monthly emails to their owners showing their maintenance status. Refrigerators, washers, dryers, and other smart appliances using home Wi-Fi networks can send operational data back to manufacturers via the internet. Manufacturers and futurists are espousing the next phase in internet growth known as the Industrial Internet which combines intelligent machines and advanced software analytics to improve productivity and minimize downtime. They estimate the fifteen year savings alone to healthcare will be in excess of $63 billion. This is going to happen. It doesn’t matter whether or not you like it.
You ask if all of these changes will affect your department and your job. The answer is yes. It is inevitable that you will eventually be affected. The reality is that connectivity is here and we must face it. We do have options; we can do nothing, or we can become leaders who advocate smart devices and demonstrate their value to the caregivers in our institutions. I believe that we should become leaders and demonstrate our ability to assist clinicians in finding ways to bring safe and effective technology to the application of healthcare. These devices will improve patient care by enabling nurses, physicians and other healthcare practitioners work more efficiently and reduce errors. We should stop debating convergence and take the lead in embracing it.
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