“I’d like to thank you for your article “8 Technology Drive Me Crazy.” I feel very comfortable sharing my views about technology and gastroenteritis.” – Dr. Edward J. Talbott, M.D. “When I read Dr. Talbott’s article, I was surprised at his optimism regarding the impact that new technologies can have on the management of acute or chronic conditions.
“8 Technology Drive Me Crazy” is a very interesting eBook that I recently read. I agree with some of what is said in it, but the author paints a somewhat rosy picture of what gastroenterologists can expect in the future. I think Dr. Talbott would be happy with more technological advances in the medical field. In fact, I would like to see more hospitals specializing in diagnosing and treating digestive disorders as technology improves. The fact is, the field of medical science is always changing and as newer technologies become available, the medical community will become even more dynamic and innovative.”
In discussing this issue with colleagues, we have many who are very pessimistic about the impact that new technology will have on their practice. They fear that physicians will lose the “old-fashioned” bond that has been formed over the years. I often tell them that if they could go back in time, they would have gone to school instead of becoming a doctor. At the present time, there are many physicians who would prefer to continue their studies and do not want to abandon their families and their personal desires. If this trend continues, it would appear that technology has driven away some of the natural bonds between medical professionals and their patients.
What is hopeful is that some of this technology that drives us crazy will be utilized to improve our patient care. A prime example of this technology is new comers to medicine who may be reluctant to put technology to work in their own offices. One such technology is EMR, or Electronic Medical Records. EMR is software that keeps a physician’s EMR database up-to-date, allowing physicians to access information about their patients’ medical histories from any location. There is no need to travel to a clinic to obtain information about a patient’s health, since the data is all electronically maintained. This technology has driven much of the change in how medical professionals to communicate and collaborate.
Another way in which technology is changing the face of healthcare is through innovation in hospitals and nursing facilities. For example, many hospitals now have interactive digital signage for patients who are viewing their monitors. The signage not only provides information about the patient, but also the latest treatments being offered by the staff at the hospital. Many doctors and nurses are using this technology in conjunction with EMR software to expand the reach of medical knowledge, while patients can keep up with their care at home.
Another area of healthcare where technology is changing the face of communication is through the use of virtual patient records. Although this technology has been around for a while, it was not until recently that it became available to nurses and doctors on a widespread basis. Some doctors order more detailed reports on patients from their computer, rather than having to visit a practice to get a paper copy. Other practices have made it mandatory that patients have an electronic copy of their records, so that a nurse or doctor can view them on their computer at home. Since doctors no longer have to make a physical visit to a practice to obtain a patient’s record, this technology has dramatically cut down on overhead and increased productivity.
Not to be left out of the discussion about technology impacting healthcare, let us not forget about medical transcription. Patients’ voices are increasingly being transcribed into text format for storage and future use in medical research and court cases. In fact, there are even companies that will pay you if you can type up a medical case file and submit it as a proof for a legal case, saving the hospital thousands of dollars and hours of valuable manpower. As medical transcription moves into the mainstream of healthcare, it will continue to impact the way that doctors communicate with patients in the near future.
The other area of healthcare technology that is changing the face of communication is through electronic patient records, or EPR. EPR is also moving into the mainstream of healthcare, but instead of being for hospital use only, it is being used to secure all types of patient information in the doctor’s office, health insurance company’s offices, and many other locations. Patients will be able to access their own personal records at any time from anywhere, rather than having to wait for a doctor’s appointment to do so. Even more impressive, EPR systems store all of this data in a secure online location, making it easier than ever for patients and doctors to collaborate on issues regarding medical care.