What should IT be in healthcare?

The embrace of digital technology is slow in the healthcare industry. Comparatively, industries like aviation and banking have long maximized the benefits of digitisation. This has allowed us to manage our banking accounts or our flight bookings, just with a click of the mouse. This ‘vision’ can be adopted in healthcare, however, it is not as simple.

I have long believed that in order for the future medical practice to fully utilize digital technology, medical education needs to be overhauled. The conventional way of teaching medicine has to change. The adage of “Do not fix what is not broken” should no longer be adhered to, if we are to move quickly forward.

Just the other day, I was introduced to 3D children’s books. I was amazed at the app which brings a 2D image to life, much to the amazement of children and adults alike. Why can’t we use this in medical education? There have been early adopters in some medical schools but we need all medical schools to follow suit if we are to ensure that the entire healthcare industry is on the same page.

IT is not just putting some digital text online. It is about maximizing the power of digitization in making information interactive, meaningful and engaging. This will make learning more efficient, yet fun. Gone should be the days when we learn anatomy from lengthy paragraphs and grainy images, often relying on our powers of imagination to reconstruct the passage. Imagine learning biochemistry using digital animation. I would probably remember more than I can now!

IT should be innovative, intuitive, adaptive and progressive. It should assist, not hinder the daily processes. The future is bright, and the investments in that future starts today.

The heart of the IT dilemma in Medicine

Healthcare is an area which is slow to adopt digital technology in its everyday tasks. Comparatively, areas like banking and the airline industry have long adopted digitisation and a cloud environment in its infrastructure. One may ask why?

The answer is fairly simple if you think about it. Medical education.

Medical education is stuck in a twilight zone, where teaching methods have hardly budged over the decades. Believing the saying that “you do not fix what is not broken” or “That’s how I’ve learnt it!’ is prevalent in the medical fraternity. Therefore, trying to infuse new technologies in the hospitals today are met with firm resistance. Doctors are just not trained to be comfortable using a computer in patient-doctor interactions. They are not trained to use e-prescription in their medical schools. In fact, pen and paper continues to rule in most medical schools.

Even primary students are being exposed to new classroom technologies using apps and digitization to its fullest potential to enhance learning. This mantra needs to be adopted by medical schools if we are to achieve the potential of digital technologies in healthcare.

Submerging medical students in an environment which utilizes IT will only enhance its use in their future medical careers. In the same vein, hospitals have to plan ahead and be wary of the changing times in healthcare. Patient centric approaches and preventive medicine will be prominent in the coming decade and thus formulating and adopting technologies that assist this will only be wise.