It is fairly common knowledge that the average age of the person repairing and maintaining imaging equipment is creeping higher and higher. The ranks of the imaging service field are not being filled by a wave of the younger generation. As the current workforce ages, technology has taken, and will continue to take, huge leaps forward both in and outside of the imaging world. This presents some specific challenges to the “Old Dogs” within our family. Specifically those that may be close to retirement or do not feel comfortable with computers. The good news is that old dogs can learn new tricks.

The first thing to consider is that not all new tricks are new. So many of the latest, newest, and next generation technology is simply a repackaging of the old technology. The first CT that I opened was a fourth generation CT. It has fixed detectors in a ring outside of the tube. The next “new” CT the hospital purchased was a third generation CT. The third generation is the current standard. The computers change and the speed and form of data transfer has changed. But the x-ray tube still spins around the patient and they still use slip-rings to transfer power and data.

Perhaps most important factor for the well-seasoned individual is that you cannot short cut experience. You have to earn experience through the hard work and the challenges you face and overcome. The basics of troubleshooting have not changed, they remain the same.

One of the best resources for the “Old Dogs” (really everyone in imaging) are the growing number of Independent Service Organizations (ISO). Many provide free tech support which can, of course, help resolve a crisis. However, the ISO is also great as a resource for completing that PM or taking a first look at equipment you have not spent a lot of time working with. Having access to the knowledge and experience of people that rebuild and refurbish, day in and day out, the specific equipment you are working on simply cannot be beaten.

The real strength of the ISO is the training they offer. The selection of equipment, locations, and company to train with has grown The ISO training for the various imaging systems is often more in depth and useful than the training offered by the manufacturer. The depth of knowledge has been hard won by the ISO that had to be better at servicing the equipment than the manufacturer.

With Medicare to reduce payments for CR by 7% for five years starting in 2018, there will be a great opportunity to learn a few “new tricks.” Wireless DR, multiple DR plates able to sync to multiple units and many more technology driven changes are coming. The bottom line is that within our industry, we need to be lifelong learners. The industry is ever changing.

What are the challenges that we will be facing in the near and distant future? What are the challenges you are facing? What, if any, is the strategy to deal with those challenges? Let me know.