There are lots of HTM managers today who should never be managers. Many of them grew up (professionally) doing things other than working in HTM. Others could barely manage themselves when they were technicians. There are probably a host of other reasons for these “not-so-good” managers being in the roles they are today. But the consequences for the working biomed can be disasterous. Let me explain.
When you have the job of managing an HTM (or biomedical) program, there are very specific ways to set up your shop, craft your inventory, manage your work orders, and counsel your workers on the proper use of the system. It is only from a well-designed, fully implemented, and rigorously used system that the data and information can be collected to effectively manage an in-house program and stave off the outsiders who want to take over your program.
A good program starts with an inventory. It is the inventory that defines the services, flows from the MEMP and identifies the items to be maintained. The inventory should be ultra-complete, with all medical equipment in the hospital/system contained in it. This is especially necessary for the equipment that the HTM department does not maintain, because it is this equipment that can most easily fall through the cracks. This non-in-house-maintained equipment is the basis for future program expansion.
The inventory must contain a lot of data. It should serve as a look-up for information such as owner department, PM frequency, and PM procedures. It also must contain information about connectivity, such as IP address, software level, and anything else that would help a service person diagnose or correct a problem.
In addition to the inventory, there must be a means for the biomeds to enter their time spent engaged in activities that may not be able to be tied to a specific asset number. This includes system installations, multi-item troubleshooting, IT related issues, meetings, etc. It also should be used for work performed on small equipment that may not have an individual asset number. This may include suction regulators, oxygen flowmeters, thermometers, rental equipment, or anything else that, for whatever reason, does not have hospital asset numbers attached to them.
A good manager will design a system to create “buckets” for biomeds to be able to document every small piece of their workday. A good mananger has worked as a BMET sometime in his/her career. They can help their employees be successful by sharing strategies that work. They can help them plan a way to overcome the obstacles to good documentation and other workflow-related issues which can make the biomed look bad.
I hear managers who complain that their technicians do not document as fully as they would like, but they do not know how to create the infrastructure to facilitate good documentation. Chances are that they have never had to set up such a complex system before, or been required to use one. They just tell their technicians to “document more time.” And often quote a goal, such as 85 percent of the paid hours. If their manager cannot tell them how to increase their documentation, the biomeds are left to try and figure it out. And because the working biomeds do not know what the manager or administration is looking for, they have great difficulty in deciding how to comply with their manager’s demand to “document more time.” The technicians often resort to padding all of their work time to give the boss what they are asking for. But the times are inaccurate and lead to problems in the future.
Managing people is much more than just setting goals and forcing the employees to meet them. It is often coaching, counseling, discussing and explaining to the employee why a certain goal is important and how the information will be used and useful to the organization. It should always be coupled with some self-serving motive, like why it is important to the biomeds themselves to comply with the goal.
Here is a perfect instance where a biomed manages biomeds better than a business manager can. Someone who has walked the walk and dealt with the difficulties and demands of administration is much better at forming a team than a prescriptive manager who can just give orders. We need experienced biomeds to lead the HTM shops of U.S. hospitals.
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