Several months ago, Dr. Robert Pearl, M.D. published an article regarding the prevention of technology adoption in health care. Every year, leading intellectuals attend the Stanford Medicine X conference to collaborate on expanding technological advancements to health care. The industry itself is not so keen on it.
This list compiled by Dr. Pearl is intended to analyze and interpret the problems that implementing new technology poses for health care.
- New technology does not necessarily speak to the issue at hand.
He begins by noting a valuable point: “technology is worth nothing if it doesn’t solve an important problem or improve lives.” The reason we have willingly embraced technologies such as the computer, the Internet, and the smartphone is because they have proved to be advantageous to our development. Physicians are in need of devices that will be able to do the same for the health care industry.
- More technology costs more money.
Everyone is eager to profit from new technology, but available funds are minimal for fancy new toys. Dr. Pearl discusses how the payment model used in health care today values quantity, not quality. Physicians are paid based on the hours they put in, the number of patients they see each day, etc. Unless this model changes, it is unlikely that they will rush to pay for something that will reduce their own compensation.
- Patients don’t always have access to their records and providers don’t always give it to them.
Medical records have long been kept under lock and key in order to protect sensitive information from being leaked. The innovation of electronic health records has not only created a safer environment to store medical data, but also enabled a more secure mode of sharing it. However, allowing patients access to this data is a relatively new notion, and one which physicians are hesitant to accept. Of course, the idea is slowly gaining traction and patients are beginning to become more involved in their care. Dr. Pearl recommends that those who are able to provide mobile-friendly solutions for physicians and maintain patient access to data will be the ones who are successful.
- Technology demands time.
EHRs require data input in a specific manner that may be unnatural for physicians who have been doing things their own way for years. The systems don’t allow shortcuts when collecting patient information in order to minimize errors, and they have proven to be quite effective; however, it is clear why this would be exasperating for anyone.
- Doctors find technology impersonal.
Physicians are tasked with caring for their patients, which encompasses not only diagnosis and treatment, but also empathy, and they feel that technology prevents them from delivering that. At the same time, patients want convenience from their health care. With patient portals and texting capabilities, they would rather communicate from the comfort of their homes instead of in a doctor’s office. Accommodating the preferences of both parties may prove to be a challenge, but might be necessary in the changing industry.
Dr. Pearl’s perspective shows us that we cannot let this become an either/or situation, pitting technology against health care. Instead, we must learn to incorporate new innovation into traditional medicine for true progress. His complete article can be found on Forbes.com – definitely worth a read for patients, providers, and vendors alike.
Author: Apoorva Anupindi