How to best utilise tech in medicine?

Technology can be expensive in healthcare. Developing a custom solution can cost one thousands to millions of ringgit to create. Even then, the solutions are usually fraught with bugs and inabilities to integrate with other existing softwares. The market is so fragmented that solutions are usually purchased separately resulting in the use of different solutions at the same hospital or place of practice.

Thus the use of technology in healthcare can be disruptive in every sense of the word. Although we cannot escape the digitisation of healthcare and the many benefits that it brings, we cannot deny that, perhaps, it is still not quite ready for prime time medicine. The use of big data analytics and how we interpret the information, following which we present that in useful manner to the patients in order to bring benefits, is still science fiction on most occasions. It adds noise and sometimes confusion to the art of medicine. The art of looking at the patient, asking the right questions, watching the non-verbal cues and at the same time exude empathy, will soon be a lost art as digitisation aims to rob both doctors and patients of the chance to “intimately” know each other.

Most EMRs in the market is packed with features. It almost parallels a airplane cockpit control panels. There are lots of devices that gives out a lot of information. The key is to focus on the right things at the right time and to interpret the information in a coherent manner, especially during critical times. Training in EMRs is often not robust and regular enough for healthcare personnel. There is literally no checking mechanism to ensure that the system is utilised appropriately and that staff will be trained regularly to ensure quality of data being entered. It is assumed that this should be second nature to healthcare staff, when clearly it is not. Most EMRs require substanstial learning and practice to be fully proficient.

In my opinion, the best systems are ones that uses tech which is familiar to all. Large multinational tech giants have done some of the work for us in terms of gaining familiarity, be it Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Dropbox, Evernote and the list goes on and on. Perhaps using some of these platforms to launch a healthcare solution will be best in order to minimise re-learning and to ensure that the systems continue to be developed and improved on. Perhaps custom made EMRs are going to be the thing of the past as many of them are not easily upgradable and spending on server space and security can be a very costly affair.

Indeed, the technology that we need is already there for us to use, maybe in an innovative way. A way that it was perhaps not intended to do when it was first developed. This is also way cheaper. Tech does not have to be expensive. It just takes some creativity and bravery to think of ways to use existing tech solutions in unconventional ways.