Main Article Content
Clinical engineering, survey, questionnaire, global, association, professional, technicians, health, international, alliance, collaboration
To determine the maturity of a profession one must have knowledge of the individual attributes of the practitioners of that profession and the universal strength of unique skills among them. We have conducted an international survey of Clinical Engineering (CE) professionals associated with the management of technological tools developed for and deployed within the healthcare delivery system. The survey targeted participants who are practicing engineering tasks related to the safe and efficient management of technology used in the delivery of healthcare services. The participants, consisted of cohort of individuals whose contact information was collected from attendees at previous clinical and biomedical engineering events including: (1) presentation at congresses/regional meetings, (2) serving on international technical committees or task forces, (3) attending virtual clinical engineering events, or (4) subscribing to the Global Clinical Engineering Journal. The purpose of the survey was to identify the state of organization of CE professionals and the potential gaps, if any exists, in meeting their professional development needs.
The survey was developed and conducted using on-line internet apps and links that provided access to a questionnaire in six different languages to facilitate optimal participation and response accuracy in as many geographical regions as possible. The survey was conducted in the early part of 2020 over period of 6 weeks. The overall response rate1 was over 5% (total of 14,400 individual contacts less estimated 1,750 contacts who did not open/bounced back). A total of 667 responses from 89 countries were received. This survey is considered an improvement, over previously reported international surveys2,3, with regard to response volume and rate. The strength of this survey, having larger response volume and geographical representation, when compared with previously documented CE surveys has improved even with narrower time window of data collection.
The current survey consisted of twelve questions, beginning with information request about the respondent professional affiliation and moves on to request the ranking of the criticality of C.E. specific issues, while another question provided for comments in free formatting text style. The responses received were in all of the seven languages posted and included representation from all the continents.
The analysis of the survey responses shows that about 60% of the responders identified themselves as clinical engineers, 16% as other type of engineers, 13% as technicians, and 12% as health professionals. Responses to particular questions demonstrate highest ratio of number of affirmative to negative responses. They were related to the perceived value responders placed on stronger international collaboration and on their willingness to engage in it. A conclusion, based on the analysis of the responses to this international survey, that the CE profession is awaiting the consolidation of the momentum generated by growing healthcare needs and present global conditions.
The identified gap is lack of a dedicated international representation that is clearly identifiable within the CE field. Analysis of the survey data suggests the need of an international framework focusing on the various CE professional groups/associations and their members to face present challenges. The establishment of a global alliance to clearly identify the field of clinical engineering; to promote public awareness; to form liaison with government agencies and other healthcare decision makers, will improve global cooperation and inter CE societal relations that will serve patients as well.