College offers degree bridging medical technology & leadership

By Richard Tidman

The new medical technologies responsible for the ongoing transformation of healthcare systems are often credited, alongside incredible clinical breakthroughs, for extending both the quality of patient care and lifespans. It is also within this framework that society has come to expect financial accountability, unrestricted access to modern medical technology and continuously improving levels of patient care.

This raises a question: in the presence of these fantastic technologies, why are quality gains often diminutive for such extraordinary costs? At the core of this query is a fundamental disconnect between the user and the technology.

As healthcare continues to surge ahead in its rapid transition to a technology-driven industry, it leaves in its wake an ever-widening gap between new and innovative medical technology and those tasked with integrating such technology into their organizations.

This has left healthcare, by and large, calling out for new professionals who can close this gap. At Durham College, where I am a program coordinator and professor with the School of Science & Engineering Technology, we’re not only heeding this call, we are answering it.

Based in Oshawa, Ontario, Durham College is the first institution in Canada to offer a degree developed in specific response to the need for a new kind of healthcare professional. The Honours Bachelor of Healthcare Technology Management (BHCTM) is designed to address the evolving crisis that sees existing medical professionals as unequipped to manage the ongoing changes demanded by technology-intensive organizations.

In fact, similar stresses can be felt across the entire supply chain, ranging from the group purchasing organization to the point of care. There is a struggle with the complexity of decisions at every stage of a technology’s lifecycle that is compounded by the fact that there is virtually no comprehensive means available to medical professionals to help them acquire the necessary cross-disciplinary skills.

In addition, promoting from within might no longer be a viable option as evidenced in the preference for management degrees, in addition to the skills of the functional specialist.

Already an established academic leader in Biomedical Engineering Technology, with graduates who are continually sought after by healthcare industry leaders, DC is well-positioned to lead this innovative new program of study.

Recent discussion with a group of registered practical nurses (RPNs) has also revealed an increased desire to offer RPNs the opportunity to move beyond the point of care to the management level. The college is working diligently to map entryways into the program for them and others already working in the field.

Graduates of the BHCTM program will fill an identified industry gap and deliver solutions to a genuine and expanding problem. The transition of healthcare to a technology-dependent industry requires new leadership with the appropriate cross-disciplinary skills to succeed. The time for a degree in healthcare technology management has arrived.

Richard Tidman is a professor and program co-ordinator with the School of Science & Engineering Technology at Durham College.

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