Last week, IAMERS (the International Association of Medical Equipment Remarketers and Servicers) celebrated its 31st birthday in Charleston at the IAMERS Annual Meeting. After IAMERS President Diana Upton welcomed the group, the Annual Meeting kicked off with a keynote presentation by Dr. Mike Bivins, president of Urology Centers of Alabama.

Dr. Bivins offered some candid insights about national physician shortages, which the Association of American Medical Colleges has projected to be upward of 86,000 physicians by 2036. Dr. Bivins also noted that there is currently a shortage of registered nurses and it is expected to continue as Baby Boomers age and the need for healthcare grows. He also drew attention to the fact that medical reimbursement is not keeping pace. While some of the news was sobering, Dr. Bivins also spoke about the success of various day surgery programs which may be performed safely outside the hospital setting. Some ambulatory surgery programs may well come with a lower price tag than in-hospital health care services.

IAMERS members much appreciated Dr. Bivins’ closing remarks about prostate cancer awareness and the successful monitoring and treatments available. It was obvious to all attending that Dr. Bivins is passionate about the need to receive regular tests to screen for prostate cancer, which usually doesn’t cause symptoms. Dr. Bivins also offered insights as to low testosterone treatment and shared, in a general manner, some successes achieved. Everyone appreciated Dr. Bivins’ balance of candor and compassion in these important areas of men’s health.

In a series of reflections on creating a thriving team culture, Josh Block, president of Block Imaging, framed teamwork as the ultimate competitive advantage in the marketplace. He spoke about assuming a leadership position at Block at the age of 29 and how he subsequently encouraged team engagement and trust. Siemens Healthineers and Common Spirit Health agreed to acquire Block Imaging last year. Josh’s observations including about the “Platinum Rule” (treat others as THEY would like to be treated), also resonated with everyone in the room.

Scott Trevino, senior vice president cybersecurity at Trimedx did a superb job simplifying and corralling the “standards that affect your business”. When we observe the proliferation of standards impacting the servicing industry, this is no small task. Noting that the FDA had issued the final rule of the Quality Management System Regulation, which becomes effective in 2026, Scott also reviewed the current state of play/draft on the FDA Remanufacturing Guidance, which has yet to be released. In a much appreciated effort, Scott reviewed his understanding of the status of general standards, including recommended practice for a medical equipment management program (AAMI EQ 56), Guidance for health care technology management educational programs (AAMI EQ 110), Guidance for use of medical equipment maintenance strategies and procedures (AAMI EQ 89), and alternative equipment maintenance programs (AAMI EQ 103). His take on the accelerating regulatory landscape was helpful in offering general directions as to the increase in cybersecurity laws and the legislative efforts (state and federal) on cyber legislation.

For many, there remains some confusion regarding the Right to Repair Movement, as legislation has been filed in several U.S. States including as to medical equipment. Attendees appreciated Scott’s “crash course” concerning the legislation and regulations that may impact their businesses.

Not to be outdone, Mike Powers, director, healthcare technology management at Intermountain Health, offered a straightforward assessment of the current role of AI and his crystal ball as to future possible risks. AI is expected to be much more than chat boxes and phone trees (which parenthetically raise privacy concerns). Much has already been reported on the expected reduction in labor for tasks that can be automated. Mike’s insightful take suggested that perhaps caregivers who are already in relatively short supply, might have more time to care for patients. Mike also highlighted (as Dr. Bivins had earlier in the program) that physician shortages are projected to be acute in the future. He identified that AI offered the presence of aids such as intelligent diagnostic systems, robotic assisted surgery at an advanced level, telemedicine and remote monitoring. We are already experiencing virtual assistants and some decision support systems. Mike also suggested that AI would have a greater role in passive network detection systems by gathering and monitoring data in a way that aberrant behavior may be discovered through various alerts. Mike brought the AI discussion round to those in the room as he discussed how AI works in Predictive Maintenance of Medical Equipment. What was particularly interesting was Mike’s suggestion that AI in radiology is moving to an “app drawer” at the facility level such that radiologists may pair up with their reading software. With Mike’s optimism also came some pragmatism as he acknowledged that AI in the cloud with different apps may well have its challenges, including cases wherein the data transfer errs or crashes. It seems logical that network traffic may have its own set of AI problems. Bottom line: AI may well empower physicians by permitting them to focus on patient care and offering automation of processes but it is still very much in the development for its predictive analytics components.

Jon Vermeulen, president of Financial Corp. Leasing offered some inside experience and advice on Equipment Leasing Options. While equipment leasing may offer some attractive options for those who may prefer not to pay the purchase price all at once, Jon was candid on the tactics of some in the leasing industry to not fully disclose interest rates and hidden fees. He was a good sport answering some pointed questions on equipment leasing contracts when a guaranty is requested, and best practices when customers are considering equipment leasing as an option. Jon’s tips included homing in on what the expected buyout may be at the end of the lease term as a way to better assess the situation.

Dave Hurlock, president of X-Ray America (and Charleston resident) offered a terrific industry review and a few predictions as to where the industry is headed. Dave is always able to convey his points with humor and wit, and those in the room well agreed that Dave’s observations were solid and special. Though the educational sessions occupied the full day, Jimmy Kallam president of East Coast Medical Systems well summed up the overall impression of many in the room, “simply excellent”.

About the author: Robert J. Kerwin is the general counsel for IAMERS.

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