A stock brokerage firm has been running a television ad that features an innovative smart phone app. The ad shows a person in a store who notices customers waiting in a long line to buy a hot product. Because the product seems to be in such demand, the person becomes curious to know if the company manufacturing that product might be a good investment. Using the brokerage firm’s app, the person scans the product’s bar code and immediately receives complete investment performance and analysts recommendations on that manufacturer. This is but one of the thousands of apps we have seen introduced since the development of smart phones and tablet computers. Apps vary widely. Many of them will change the way we work and do business. Apps like Uber have the potential to disrupt totally the taxi industry. New health and fitness apps may lead to improved medical research methods and completely alter the patient/physician relationship. Some apps solve major problems while others solve small irritants, but innovative people who see needs and look for ways to fulfill them create them all.
The explosion of creativity in our nation is not limited to apps for smart phones and tablets; the growth of 3D printing has been equally amazing. 3D printers, which started as devices to make coarse prototypes from spools of plastic filament, have now evolved into printers that use laser sintering to manufacture fully formed components for jet engines. In medicine, 3D printers now make inexpensive prosthetics, synthetic tissue and models for surgery.
When I see so many innovations, I ask myself; “Where are the innovators in our profession?” Hospital personnel continuously encounter problems that we are uniquely positioned to help solve. Their everyday problems are not new. ICU nurses need improved ways to identify and keep track of the multiple IV lines going to their patients. We need to find suitable methods for turning critical patients with multiple lines and lead wires attached. The growth in numbers of bariatric patients has caused an increase in nursing back injuries. We must develop better ways for nurses to lift and move this type of patient. For years, a lack of suitably designed equipment for transporting post surgical patients from the OR to the ICU has caused extra stress for caregivers.
We seem to be able to find time to debate our relationship with our IT departments or deciding on a new name for our profession. We spend time arguing if we should require certification of BMETs and clinical engineers. There is always time to question which method is best for planned maintenance scheduling. Instead of focusing on these matters, we would accomplish much more by setting aside time to use our skills finding creative ways to assist nurses, physicians and other caregivers in managing their patients. We have the talent and training to be able to play a much broader role in our hospitals. There are hundreds of well trained, intelligent BMETs and clinical engineers working daily in hospitals. Imagine what they could accomplish if they applied their talents to finding innovative approaches to solving everyday patient care problems.
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