Fast Company

Medicine's Problems Begin With Technology and End With the Art of Medicine

The pressure on today's healthcare providers is insane. Technology is supposed to be the tool that saves healthcare. And it will if it can keep from killing all the patients and care providers first. Today's healthcare professional is overloaded with technology and faces a treadmill existence where the "efficiency" screamed for by managed care and everyone else has come at the cost of loading the care providers with insane workloads and sicker and sicker patients.

In today's hospital, only the near-dying get to be in a hospital. Patients who had their chest cracked open on Monday are home by mid-week. That leaves nurses, doctors, therapists and other heathcare workers burdened by incredibly sick patients who need lots of skilled care. Just what thos professionals are trained for, of course. The problem is that ALL of their pateints are like that and the care provider to patient ratios have gone down as the acuity levels of patients have gone up.

Sure, technology provides some hope. But the EMR is only as good as the people who use it and we are burning through them at an alarming rate. Patients are dying in hospitals needlessly every day and good people are getting blamed for the faults of a system out of control.

Technology has a huge role to play. But it has to help and not add to the burden of those already desperately overloaded. Healthcare technology should begin with the skilled care professionals and not with the technology providers looking to apply the answers that worked in other industries to healthcare. Healthcare is nightmarishly complex and a one-percent failure rate in healthcare technology is about 1,000 times too high if it's you or someone you love in that bed.

 

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6 Comments

  • Facino Ricci

    Maybe that is true also. Medical technology are very useful through the dying patient because of accident or emergency situation. But for the patient only have an regular illness would not be appropriate with the medical technology. John Masters Organic Products

  • James Belle

    Hospitals under-invest in technology mainly because software vendors overcharge them, as they do other government organisations.

  • Richard Jarvis

    Again, technology can't answer all the problems. Medicine is an unusual world. The issue you raise--those with disabilities--is a whole 'nother set of problems. We are about to enter a new age in that realm, by the way. With the number of TBIs coming back from wars in the East, we're going to have lots of disabled adults needing demanding and expensive services. While technology will help and the DoD is way ahead in this one respect while it's not in others, the real care for disabled adults still requires high-touch, skilled medicine and caregiving and much of it is falling on families. Yet another area where we've got to begin to search for solutions.

  • Jennifer Dechant

    Yes, I agree with Mr. Jarvis, as I am a caregiver. I do not know who will help me when my son is considered a disabled adult. 25-30 some thousand for group homes gives me little hope. My state gives me 450 dollars a year for respite care -pathetic, is it not? I can not ever leave my boy alone.
    J. Dechant

  • Richard Jarvis

    EMR software is far from perfect but it is moving. The big issue will be standards. Getting standards in place and, more importantly, having those standards go across the spectrum of healthcare IT. The number of "smart" devices in hospitals is exploding and the data they generate is outrageous. The problem is getting that data into the systems where all of the other data reside.

    Hospitals and healthcare have used technology for years on the financial side. Now the time has come to make the clincal, diagnostic, financial and other data work together. Lab results, test results, monitoring data--all need to become part of the EMR.

    That's were you get to the wicked level of complexity of healthcare. The closest thing to it is Air Traffic Control in terms of complexity of data and the critical nature of data. The next five to 10 years will see some big leaps--especially if the standards organizations come together. But the critical issue is to involve caregivers in the overall picture. And that is where we are only just beginning the journey.

  • Rachel Grover

    I agree with you EMR software is far from perfect but I think we need to keep working on it. Just because we are just at the beginning path doesn't mean it won't be worth the journey. Healthcare is crazy complicated and I agree 1% is too much when it comes to something as irreplaceable and meaningful as a loved one's life.