By Colby Baber

ColbyBaberx250The health care technology management field has a major issue that I believe needs to be addressed: Biomedical technicians and other health care technology management professionals are not taking nearly enough advantage of the Internet. One reason for this, I believe, is the prevalence of non-digital natives among BMETs.

I recently completed a service training class where the instructor mentioned to the students that the average age of a BMET is 48 years old. As I looked around the room at the 20 other students, I saw what he meant. At that moment, I suddenly understood why the Internet has not yet taken off in our field.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If the leaders of the health care technology management field make using the Internet a priority, there’s no reason that the analog generation can’t go digital.

Living the Online Life

As a member of the digital generation, I naturally spend much of my life on the Internet. (My career as a BMET started in 2011, shortly before graduating college, when I was 20.) Young people use the Internet for anything you can think of. When my car breaks down, I Google the problem and search for a solution. I join online communities that share similar interests and hobbies. I read news, research interesting topics, and even get advice about retirement planning, all on the Internet.

In light of this fact, it should be no shock that when I started my career as a BMET, one of the first things I did was go online to find as many biomed resources as I could. To my surprise, there were very few. But why? If I can find out how to replace my car’s water pump online, why can’t I find out how to replace a circuit board in my hospital’s patient monitor? Why can’t I join an Internet discussion forum to ask other biomeds for career advice? I just couldn’t believe that people didn’t want to get online and create communities, share ideas, share resources, or make connections with other people in our field.

There are many advantages to using Internet resources. One is online discussion forums, which would allow HTM professionals to communicate in an organized manner. There might be 10 techs in your shop. There might be 100 members in your local biomedical society. But the Internet has the power to bring thousands of biomeds together at any time and from any place. With a forum you can ask questions regarding repairs, complain about your boss, share ideas about how to improve your hospital policies, make connections that could advance your career, or just chat about life with people that are very similar to you.

The Power of Communities

Online communities enhance the flow of information and ideas. They expand your contacts from a few to a few thousand. When there are hundreds or thousands of people willing to answer your question, that is an incredible resource to have at your disposal. Another advantage for biomeds in using the Internet is the ability to quickly and easily share resources. Service manuals, helpful links, product reviews, job postings, articles, and news are just a few resources that biomeds can share on the Internet.

If you searched the Internet for articles on gardening, you would find thousands. We should have access to the same resources for our career. The tools available on the Internet also include social networks. When you search for biomedical, BMET, or health care technology management on Twitter or Facebook, you probably won’t find much. Setting up social network accounts and talking about the HTM field is a great way to connect with others. Biomedical associations would have a much easier time recruiting new members if they took advantage of social networks and forums to connect with fellow biomeds. News and information is now delivered faster on social networks than it is on TV broadcasts and even news websites. It is essential that HTM professionals and organizations start to take advantage of Internet resources like forums, websites, and social networks. As we look toward the future, it is imperative that the HTM field moves toward creating an online presence.

Although the Internet doesn’t come naturally to the analog generation, there’s no reason they can’t become more digital. The leaders of the HTM field need to be promoting the creation and use of online resources for biomeds. Biomeds need to be setting up social network accounts, joining forums, and trying to connect with others in the HTM field. They need to share their resources, ideas, experiences, and opinions with others online.

Biomeds of all ages can take advantage of the tools the Internet has to offer. It can be as simple as creating a blog about your career as a BMET or creating a Facebook group for HTM professionals. Whether you are a creator or contributor doesn’t matter, because everyone benefits when information is more accessible. 24×7

Colby Baber is the founder of the BMET Forum (www.bmetforum.com). For more information, contact jbethune@allied360.com.

To get started on your online adventure, check out the following websites: