When it comes to healthcare and wellness these days, which tool would you more likely associate with quality care and a positive experience – a stethoscope or an iPad? Well, if it were the 7-year old version of me talking, there’d be no doubt in my mind that “stethoscope” would be the answer. Obviously, 7-year old me has never seen an iPad – he’s busy just trying to figure out how to beat Super Mario 3 for Nintendo. Best of luck little dude! Present day me picks up a stethoscope and sees a tool that does only one measly thing. Bore snore.
It’s truly amazing just how far healthcare itself has come in terms of its adoption of certain technologies and their various impacts on the outcomes. According to some research done in 2012 by pmlive, nearly 62% of physicians were using an iPad professionally and 85% using a smartphone, with those numbers expected to continue growing aggressively here in 2013. And docs aren’t just using iPads or smart phones to update electronic health records (EHRs) or record prescription orders, they’re charting, taking vitals, recording images, communicating with team members, and gathering patient feedback.
Some hospitals, such as Mayo, have even been known to build their own apps internally and sell them to patients! This is particularly interesting because it points out that the health IT evolution hasn’t just been limited to devices in the hospital setting – it’s expanded to consumer focused software and applications as well.
Map My Fitness and Fitbit have helped consumers get more excited about their fitness routines and cardio activities. Wello has brought personal training into the home so people can train virtually with a professional. Ginger.io is using smart phone and tablet data to help researchers better understand what the world is out there doing every day in terms of their health. My company, Cariloop, is working to help people do better research about senior care and service providers and save time connecting with them. Last, but certainly not least, this amazing concept of Treatment Diaries is working to connect people with certain illnesses or conditions and share information that might be valuable or comforting. I can’t help but smile when I think of all the cool stuff that hasn’t even been launched yet!
Still, these exciting trends within the hospital as well as the wave of consumer applications have their fair share of skeptics.
Technology can crash. Humans can create typos. Data can get deleted or lost. Privacy may be breached. The internet could go down. Devices can break, malfunction, or heaven forbid – run outta batteries!
Clearly, I’m not the first person to bring up these concerns. Do a search for “Health technology issues” and you’ll find plenty of statistics and cases that point out the weaknesses in letting technology storm the gates of the healthcare system. But, I’m not going to quote any of them, because I want to hear from you instead.
Are you someone who is excited about the possibilities of what technology could do for our healthcare system, or are you someone that thinks all of these additional gadgets and do-dads are going to just lead to more confusion, mistakes, and potentially lives?