The medical devices industry can hold its head up high for developing product specialists who are a vital member of the multi disciplinary team. Thankfully, gone are the days when those who had ‘ pushy rep syndrome’ use to enter clinical areas with limited knowledge of both their products and the needs of the customer. For those who are still in this mode, I would respectfully suggest you are in the wrong industry.
The medical devices industry has invested significantly in their product specialists to ensure they are professional in every sense of the word so why is there still no recognisable professional status, with a regulatory body and a code of professional conduct?
Today, health organisations have a legal duty demonstrate that they are being clinically effective, and reduce all risks to the public under the umbrella of clinical governance. Supporting this we have clinical evidence and best practice which helps to steer national policy development. Taking this a step further, in the interest of patient safety, it’s not going to take long before the powers of Whitehall bring in standards to control the movement, access and activity of anyone entering clinical settings who is not professionally regulated. I would suggest that before these steps are undertaken that the industry gets its act together and produces the necessary framework to strengthen their professional potential. My experience has shown me that it is better to drive through change ensuring that the outcome remains relevant and effective than being driven by someone who is remote from the action.
Simple steps of producing a code of professional practice will inform the public, other professions and employers of the standards that they can expect of a product specialist.
The production of national standards and good practice emphasises the requirement for those working in industry to be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills by attending a recognisable accredited programme. NHS trusts are beginning to respond to this by adding clarification of their expectation in local policies and tender documents.
The compulsory standard for medical, nursing and other related staff in hospitals is a professional qualification. There are now Professional qualifications for company representatives – BTEC Professional Award in Access to Operating Theatres and BTEC Professional Award in Access to Hospital Clinical Areas. This Professional qualification has been recommended as the Standard of Practice by ABHI and as a BTEC National qualification is also recognized as the National Occupational Perioperative Standard for company representatives by NATN.
The Association of British Health- Care Industries (ABHI) is your lead Trade Association for the medical systems industry in the UK. Its probably not a simple re adjustment of structure but the industry already has the scope and expertise to transform itself into a respected profession with an equal voice on health care development as those professions that are already well established.
|ABHI evolved as a commercial association whose stated aims are to: |
- Advance and promote medical systems (devices, equipment, technologies and services) within the UK and globally
- Provide a forum for policy discussion with the industry's customers, legislators, public bodies and interested groups.
Accessing customers is essential for the success of any business and is an appropriate concern for the Association. In the past the medical device companies benefited from a relationship with the NHS and private sector which permitted open access to all areas of clinical care within hospitals and was underpinned by mutual trust.
|Major changes in society and technological innovation in industry have brought about changes that few could have envisioned 15 years ago. |
- Security issues are now a major consideration for the NHS and the private sector.
- Patient awareness of their rights and the need for informed consent are at last having an impact on patient care – and rightly so.
- Technological innovation has changed the role of the healthcare professional – whether within the operating theatre or critical care area.
ABHI’s initiative with the introduction of Standards of Practice for the industry recognizes the changes within the NHS and private sectors where Clinical Governance has been introduced, and adequate risk management is a legal requirement to drive down NHS liability.
So why not act now and strengthen your professional potential and get the recognition for your valuable expertise as part of the core healthcare team!
Watch this space...
RGN, CIM, DipN, MBA