Joel Nobel, MD
Joel Nobel, MD
?The HTM Champion Award winner is Joel Nobel
Joel Nobel was the founder ECRI Institute, a USA based nonprofit nongovernmental organization engaged in health services research.
developed ECRI Institute's
overall policies and programs, such as its HTA, product evaluation, risk management, and technical assistance services for the health community.
created the concepts and operating plans for Health Devices, Health Devices Alerts, the Health Devices Sourcebook
, the Healthcare Product Comparison System, and many other publications.
also developed ECRI Institute's
international programs and its related World Health Organization activities.
was conceived in 1965 when, as a resident in surgery, Dr. Nobel
developed an ongoing research program in resuscitation and emergency care.
ECRI Institute's development was intensified when he completed military service in 1968 and became ECRI Institute's full time scientific director.
In 1978, he became president, serving until 2005.
Many clinical engineers over the past 50 years and the wider CE/HTM profession owe much to who he
was and the work he
This award focuses on how he
has changed the profession of Clinical Engineering.
A friend and colleague notes:
A large group of newly minted 'clinical engineers' met Dr. Joel Nobel
as new recruits when we were fresh out of college in 1975, when he
was about 40 years old.
was clearly a "Man on a Mission" to save patients from pain and injury from defective medical devices, and to improve the efficiency, efficacy, and safety of healthcare.
In retrospect, we now know that Joel
was decades ahead of his
time, but we also learned that neither past history nor the status quo could deter him one little bit!
The good Doctor handed each of ECRI's
new clinical engineering recruits in the 1970's a loose-leaf binder chock full of rigorous Employee Handbook rules and a bright red Swiss Army knife, and then threw each of us into our first "mission.
We were assigned specific medical technology investigations, often outside our college education, with a mandate to learn the scientific, engineering, and medical principles, find the flaws in each product, identify constructive remedies where possible, write up our reports, submit to daunting internal scientific and peer review, publish our results, and then present our findings in public conferences.
TALL order for 21-year olds on their first jobs, but Joel Nobel's
faith in this crew of young clinical engineers, and his
firm direction and discipline, allowed an awful lot of them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams!
We should really laugh at ourselves for the trust Joel
placed in each of them at such young ages.
In only a few years, many found themselves presenting keynote speeches on his
behalf at national and international scientific and medical sessions.
Initially, most had little more than a Bachelor's Degree and Dr. Nobel's 'say-so' to back them up, too!
would sagely counsel: "Just stick to what you know, and don't let anyone draw you onto their turf.
You know more about that product than anyone else in the nation, so stick to your guns."
"Few would deny that Dr. Nobel's
intellectual capacity was tough to keep up with.
seemed to sleep but a couple of hours a night, and regardless of your medical, engineering, scientific, or legal specialty his
habit of endless reading and his
sharp, critical mind ensured that everyone needed to bring his
"A-game" when you talked to him.
Holidays and vacations seemed of little interest to him unless tied to a working mission or project, and the concept of retirement seemed unfathomable.
never, ever sat still, and tracking him down around the globe was a challenge until the end!
Not sure most of us would trade our own lives for his
, but it seemed those choices afforded him the constant cultural and scientific renewal and impact that made him tick.
You will certainly read of Dr. Nobel's
accomplishments in the future, but most of the accounts will be humble re-telling of a legacy that did - and will continue to - motivate and empower clinical engineers to improve healthcare around the planet in remarkable and important ways.
In the early days, half or more of the medical devices his
engineers tested were at best mediocre, and many were a threat to life and/or limb.
Fortunately, thanks to the way Dr. Nobel
hard-hitting and trustworthy testing and published reviews, today such testing reveals good-to-excellent products in the US market that are more commonly differentiated on features, ownership cost, and preference, not safety.
Elliot Sloane, a former ACCE president, stated: "To me, early in my career Joel was like a second father, and leaving him and ECRI to expand my own clinical engineering career was not an easy decision to make in 1990.
Honor is due: on ACCE's 25th Anniversary it is worth noting that most of our founding members in 1990 already had great appreciation for Dr. Nobel's
leadership in the clinical engineering field.