What is your day-to-day work like? How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work?
My work is divided into four main parts: firstly, research (both clinical and applied) to document the effectiveness of medical technologies and identify how we can improve the outcomes for different groups of patients through certain devices. Secondly, I have direct consultations with patients through my work at the clinic. At the Centre we run one of the biggest Auditory Implant programs in the world having the largest globally group of patients under our care. I take on some of the most difficult cases and I aim to improve fitting of auditory implants on patients in order to achieve the best outcomes for them. Thirdly, education: I teach clinical engineering and hearing science at the university. Finally, naturally, my work also entails a lot of paperwork.
What do you think are the top three challenges facing the healthcare system and your profession in particular?
I think that the following three challenges are equally important to the healthcare system and to my profession: costs, lack of awareness and lack of education.
The cost of new technologies is a constant struggle to the system. This is true for the different groups of patients, including completely and partially deaf people as well. Over 360 million people suffer from hearing disabilities worldwide, many of whom are from low income countries. They often do not get to benefit from the latest technologies.
There is also a lack of awareness about new technologies among different healthcare professionals. We will need to equip more specialties with the knowledge about these technologies and spread this knowledge further in other clinical jobs. The technologies we have are powerful, but they are also complex. We will need to educate healthcare professionals on how to use these devices and we need to do more research on how to program these new technologies in a personalised manner.
What role do you see for medical technologies to address these challenges?
Research should be carried out into making the technologies cost-effective and value for money. We will also need to learn more about the impact the technologies have and to enable more patients to use them. Initiatives and campaigns such as the MedTech Week can help spread information and raise awareness about the value of medical technologies. New courses at universities will be needed to overcome the challenge of education in such a new field. For example courses such as ‘hearing science’ should be increasingly incorporated into the curricula. It is clear that the old way of thinking that industry is only responsible for the product has now become more complex: new professions will have to be created to use the products. Furthermore, cooperation between industry and academia will be essential in education.
If you had one ask to the industry, what would it be?
It would be to help develop educational programs. I would ask them to invest in research on how to use devices and to fund specialist courses to enable to professionals to use the devices in the best possible way.
If you had one ask to the decision-makers, what would it be?
I would ask for more funds available to use new technologies and in general an increased budget for hospitals to have the possibility to use these devices. More evidence is increasingly available of their benefit and long-term savings for healthcare.
What would you want to see/is your vision for the care of your patients in the future and healthcare overall?
My vision is to get to a point where we can produce artificial sensory organs that function better than an actual human organ.