EBME Expo tackles the key challenges facing clinical engineers

Once again, EBME Expo has continued to shine a light on the vital contribution that clinical engineers have in ensuring patient safety, efficient healthcare delivery, and uptime of medical technologies. This year’s Expo proved to be yet another successful event – attracting large numbers of clinical engineers, healthcare professionals and procurement managers, to the Coventry Building Society Arena.

High on the agenda was the need for increased investment in medical technology, the importance of effective medical equipment management, and the need to tackle the challenges around connectivity, data interoperability and AI integration. The risk posed by cyber security threats was also a hot topic at EBME Expo – with medical devices and patient data being prime targets for hackers.

EBME Chair, Dr. John Sandham pointed out that one of the key challenges around the adoption of medical technologies is the current level of funding. He pointed out that, as far back as 2014, the NHS Five Year Forward View promised to “invest in new options for our workforce” and “to raise our game on health technology – radically improving patients’ experience of interacting with the NHS.” It also promised that the “NHS will become one of the best places in the world to test innovations that require staff, technology and funding all to align in a health system.”

He pointed out that technology is going to be at the forefront of driving improvement but added that he was concerned that we haven’t achieved the progress expected, over the ten years since the NHS Five Year Forward View was first published.

Despite the NHS continuing to have an extensive backlog, only 3.9% of NHS spend is currently being invested in technology. Clinical engineers need to put pressure on their organisations to adopt new technology and increase investment, to ensure the best possible patient outcomes and efficiency.

“If you really want technology to drive improvement for the NHS, we need to be investing more than this,” he asserted.

Dr. Sandham called for change and pointed out that some Trusts are still using ageing imaging technology and hospitals are missing out on the latest advances that can offer improved detection of cancers, for example, which ultimately impacts on patient outcomes.

The Government is also planning to expand 'Hospital at Home' services across the UK. However, if the NHS is to deliver on this ambition, it will require further investment in technology, as well as cyber security and infrastructure. We will also need to factor in the cost of logistics, when sending out engineers, as well as the cost associated with training.

Dr. Sandham further highlighted the need for more sustainable medical devices and examined some of the key barriers to adopting more sustainable technologies.

During the Expo, a thought leadership roundtable also gathered a cross-section of clinical engineering experts, to discuss the way forward, in addressing key challenges facing the sector.

Among the hot topics included the difficulties Trusts face in integrating medical technologies into electronic patient records and hospital IT infrastructure. Attendees also highlighted issues around staff shortages in the clinical engineering sector and it was suggested that fresh talent could be attracted into the profession by working with schools and engaging with children at a much earlier age, to raise awareness of the interesting opportunities available in clinical engineering. It was acknowledged that there is also a need to increase diversity in the workforce, although some observed that there have been significant improvements in terms of the number of women employed in the sector.   

While the event tackled these challenges head-on, it also highlighted the many impressive technological innovations that are making a difference in the NHS – from increasing intelligence in medical technologies, to remote patient monitoring devices and asset tracking solutions.

There was a great deal to inspire and inform at the EBME Expo, and it was evident that the two-day event is growing year-on-year – both in size and attendance - with the addition of new areas dedicated to Operating Theatres, Training and Procurement, as well as EBME. Dr. John Sandham revealed that there are plans to further expand the scope of the event, in the future, to meet increasing demand for educational content on other important areas, as the clinical engineering role continues to evolve.

The Clinical Services Journal will be providing in-depth coverage of the EBME Expo conference, as well as exclusive video interview content with thought leaders at the event…

To find out more about the event, visit: www.ebme.co.uk

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