Changes On the Horizon: 3 Takeaways from the 2019 AAMI Exchange

By George Hampton & David Francoeur

In an industry that’s always changing — with new products, services, and technology to do things better, quicker, faster — it’s imperative to stay ahead of the curve. One key place to stay connected is at the AAMI Exchange, the annual premier health technology event of the AAMI, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. TKA’s President George Hampton and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales David Francoeur recently attended this essential meeting of the minds to take the pulse of the industry and look ahead to what’s next.

“The AAMI Exchange provides the opportunity for networking and idea sharing to ensure focus on ways we can continue advancing our industry together,” says Francoeur. “It’s a place where critical service providers in healthcare technology management like TKA, along with hospital administrators, engineers, manufacturers, technicians, and others come together to discover opportunities to work together and to stay proactive in bringing the most value to our clients.”

Following their attendance at the 2019 AAMI Exchange, Hampton and Francoeur reveal 3 takeaways, all of which reflect on change on the horizon for the healthcare technology management industry:

3 Takeaways from the 2019 AAMI Exchange

1. Health Technology Management Careers Aren’t Growing

“It’s a well-known fact that the healthcare technology management industry is getting more mature by the day,” says Hampton. “Many of us are contemplating that fact — and the inevitable ramifications. We are seeing a substantial decrease in technical programs that supported our industry in the past. And we are not attracting a diverse group of young people to replace our retirees. We really don’t have anything organized in place to address this critical issue.”

AAMI has engaged a Senior Vice President of Education, which is a step forward and demonstrates the type of leadership we need from our industry association. However, one national organization can not solve this issue. Local and regional solutions need to be put in place, including inroads to high schools —instead of limiting focus to technical colleges as in the past.

“As our country, generally, is addressing demands for trade professions, we need to capitalize on this and illustrate the benefits of a career in healthcare technology management,” Hampton says. “I have four children and I would recommend a career in healthcare technology management to any of them. Healthcare continues to be a difficult but rewarding profession. Our goal should be to passionately share the “why” of what we do, and sell the “how.” Add those qualifiers to excellent pay and benefits and you have a strong argument for our profession over many other technical fields.”

Hampton has specific ideas about how to make a difference, including: signing up for professional exploration days at schools, encouraging state chapters to connect with local tech schools, and supporting AAMI in creating an apprenticeship curriculum to help address needs in regions without connections to local tech schools.

“A Google search on the word ‘wisdom” returns the following: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise,” Hampton says. “If your experience has led you to be one of the wise ones who has a career-long love of our profession, it’s time to do something to ensure its future.”

2. Industry Consolidation is Slowing

“When I started in this industry 35 years ago, the landscape looked much different — there were hundreds, if not thousands of service providers,” Francoeur says. “We’ve seen huge consolidation over the last 10 to 15 years, as private equity firms and venture capitalists aggressively completed mergers and acquisitions. Every year there were big announcements of the latest and greatest deals. But this year was auspiciously quiet.”

Why? First, most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Second, competition is as tough as ever. As a result, today’s buyers need to be much more diligent in determining how they’ll bring value and differentiate their services. Whether a buyer seeks a like-business to grow its own, or whether it seeks a different business to enhance or expand its offering, the stakes are much higher today. And that leads to less activity in the mergers and acquisitions space.

“I believe we’re going to see this trend reverse within the next 7 to 10 years,” Francoeur says. “Private equity firms and venture capitalists are going to want out as shrinking margins and profitability continue to challenge our industry. The industry will decentralize again, with more and more smaller firms coming back into the landscape, firms that can operate with lesser margins and better align with products.”

What will decentralization mean for the industry? Stay tuned.

3. New Ideas Are Coming

“In our industry, we always need to innovate — to bring value to the industry as well as stay on the leading edge of change,” says Francoeur. “The AAMI Exchange gave us an opportunity to hear about new ideas with a ‘Shark Tank’-style forum exploring four new ideas that each have the potential to bring great value to our industry.”

During the event, four individuals presented ideas, while others responded to the ideas with questions, feedback, and guidance — all with the goal of advancing the industry. The ideas included ways to save money, increase the pipeline for future resources, and develop improvements in safety.

“All the opportunities were very interesting,” Francoeur says. “We’re all focused on how to make the industry better — and the ‘Shark Tank’ ideas would definitely enhance our overall profession in a positive way.”

Both Hampton and Francoeur agree that’s the core value of the AAMI Exchange itself: Creating a space in which leaders can network, share ideas, and discover opportunities to effectively respond to and proactively impact positive change in the industry. Because the only thing that is constant is change.

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