Recognizing the need for skilled personnel to service and maintain medical equipment in the developing world, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Foundation is teaming up with the GE Foundation to develop a training model for such professionals.
Specifically, the two organizations have agreed to come up with recommendations within six months for "a more efficient and scalable training model" for biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) in underserved counties, one that would be both time and cost effective.
"This is a perfect fit for AAMI, given its support of the healthcare technology management field over the years," says AAMI president Mary Logan. "We’ve provided professional certification for BMETs and provide a range of tools to help them advance in their careers. This project continues AAMI's work to ensure a strong corps of HTM professionals who can service and maintain vital medical equipment."
Working with other stakeholders, the AAMI Foundation will examine BMET training currently in use in developing countries and identify the key players—students, ministries of health, nongovernmental organizations, and trainers—who can provide insight into the successes and challenges of existing practices. The ultimate goal is the creation of a professional network for BMETs to connect throughout the developing world and beyond.
To that end, the two groups have scheduled a stakeholder meeting June 11-12 in Toronto, Canada, to be held in conjunction with the 2015 IUPESM World Congress on Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering. IUPESM refers to the International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine. AAMI plans to release a meeting summary in August and produce a final report in the fall.
In a statement, the GE Foundation said that much laboratory and medical equipment doesn’t even work in countries in the developing world. For example, citing data from the World Health Organization, the GE Foundation said that 70 percent of laboratory and medical equipment is partially or completely out of service in sub-Saharan Africa. "We work with our partners in the region to develop local BMET programs that focus on repairing—not replacing—equipment using available resources, and educating the first generation of biomedical technicians," the foundation said. "Our programs help people build skills and create new jobs, and enable technology to be deployed more effectively."
The GE Foundation has been working with Engineering World Health (EWH) through its Developing Health Globally campaign on a program to identify trainers in resource-poor areas. The initiative has allowed for the training of 200 BMETs in four countries. EWH—a nonprofit organization that focuses on how the biomedical engineering community can improve the delivery of healthcare in the developing world—is one of several stakeholders expected to offer its expertise with the AAMI-GE training initiative.
The AAMI Foundation and its parent organization have taken the lead in supporting the healthcare technology management (HTM) field, which includes BMETs, by providing certification, resources, and effective training courses. This new partnership seeks to build on those efforts with a global perspective.
"Indeed, AAMI has a wealth of assets—training, publications, and standards—and a large network of HTM professionals and representatives from medical device manufacturers who can provide recommendations for the program," Logan says.