Studies indicate that anywhere between 40-70% of medical equipment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is non-functional. This causes delays in patient care, increases the risk of patient safety, and negatively impacts patient outcomes.
This problem is largely caused by the lack of trained Biomedical Engineer Technicians (BMETs), which results in many negative health outcomes:
- Hospitals without a BMET have double the amount of broken devices
- 73% of hospitals in Africa have difficulty locating a BMET
Even in places where highly-trained and skilled BMETs exist, they are often limited in their effectiveness to service and maintain medical equipment because of a lack of formal maintenance processes, weak supply chains, no access to tools, and limited funding for parts and consumables.
The scarcity of trained BMETs is a critical issue throughout LMICs. Empowering and equipping BMETs is an essential component of improving healthcare in these countries. Reducing these barriers will allow BMETs to keep medical equipment in optimal condition.
Focusing on BMET training courses, service contracts with healthcare facilities, and supply chain services, Assist International’s HTM Program strengthens the healthcare technology management profession by improving facility-level outcomes. Our program improves the practical skills and theoretical knowledge of BMETs in low- and middle-income countries, ultimately improving equipment uptime and patient outcomes.
Our approach is designed to address the issue of medical device downtime and its effect on patient outcomes. Our local biomedical technology training programs focus on repairing—rather than replacing—equipment using available resources and educating the first generation of biomedical technicians to support health facilities and assets. The program provides ongoing coaching and mentoring resources to cultivate a professional community of biomedical engineer technicians.
The HTM program includes the following:
- Leadership Development and Advocacy
- Market-Based Solutions and Strengthening Commercial Systems
- Training and Professional Development
- Sustainability through Locally-led Action Plans
- Gender Lens to All Program Investment and Implementation
Our HTM programs have demonstrated significant improvement in these key areas:
- Equipment uptime at health facilities through capacity building
- Improving workflow processes
- Providing tools
- Improving overall service
- Innovating supply chain solutions
Training and Mentorship Program
All BMETs involved in our program receive training in a comprehensive program led by qualified instructors. The program includes 11 modules focusing on the maintenance and repair of surgical equipment. After completing the training, participants receive either direct or remote mentorship from the program lead and program instructor.
- In-Country School to design and upgrade BMET curriculum to accreditation standards
- Establish Centers of Excellence (COE) workshops for on-going hands on regional training for BMETs
- Mentorship (remote or onsite) for on-going support
- Train the Trainers Program for in-country long-term sustainability
- Asset Management System for equipment inventory
- Monitoring and Evaluation for impact and sustainability
- Medical Equipment maintenance and repair
- Provide installation, repair, preventative maintenance and calibration services
- Supply affordable spare parts and consumables
In 2008, Assist International, in partnership with the GE Foundation, developed the Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) Program. Our program improves the practical skills and theoretical knowledge of BMETs in low- and middle-income countries, ultimately improving equipment uptime and patient outcomes.
BMET training programs have been introduced in Honduras, Rwanda, Ghana, Cambodia, and Nigeria. In Honduras, Cambodia, and Rwanda, the BMET training program has transitioned to local learning institutions that will ensure a growing stream of qualified BMETs to address medical equipment needs.
The success of the BMET training programs in these countries is well documented. In Rwanda, biomedical engineering training programs, delivered by trained technicians, have helped to disseminate technical knowledge of basic medical equipment management, troubleshooting and repairs at the local-hospital level. As a result, improvements in problem resolution (+25%) and equipment downtime (-35%) were observed across 32 district-level hospitals.
To date, our HTM program has trained 500 BMETs in seven countries (Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania).
- 7 countries served
- 140 Centers of Excellence established
- Over 90 sites affected
- 500 BMETs trained