24 May Emerging digital health technologies and current challenges
Emerging digital health technologies offer doctors a deep view inside patients’ health and can speed diagnosis as well as treatment. As technology becomes more fundamental to healthcare, early detection, screening and personalized treatment technologies will lead to preventive healthcare and improvements in the health system.
Nonetheless, increased reliance on electronic health records has separated health care from patients. In a recent New York Times article, Abraham Verghese, physician and professor at Stanford University, examines this issue describing the main challenges with current health technologies: lack of interoperability causing preventable medical errors, alert fatigue in healthcare due to extraneous noise drowning out the useful signal, and the growing prevalence of burnout syndrome among health care providers. Technology issues adding to doctors’ stress affect the care they deliver as burnout, fatigue, and depression are associated with major medical errors according to a recent study from Stanford University School of Medicine.
“My A.T.M. card is amazing: I can get cash all over America and beyond. Yet I can’t reliably get a patient record from across town. Too often the record comes by fax.”
“Our $3.4 trillion health care system is responsible for more than a quarter of a million deaths per year because of medical error, the rough equivalent of, say, a jumbo jet’s crashing every day.”
“For all the effort that goes into data gathering and entering, too often the data is ignored…We look for the button to silence the nuisance.”
“More than 50% of physicians in the United States have at least one symptom of burnout”
“For every hour doctors spend with patients, nearly two hours are spent on Electronic Health Records (EHR).”
Although certain technologies present challenges for health care providers, emerging digital health technologies could have profound effects on the medical workforce and health care. For example, precision prescribing software (condition-based medication decision support tools) helps providers find safe and effective medication option for each individual based on the best evidence. Precision prescribing can be a stress reliever and could reduce burnout as it improves practice efficiency, increase patient safety, and improve patient engagement. Personalized medicine holds promise for improving many aspects of healthcare by providing benefits for patients, providers, and the health system.