We are all painfully aware of the ever-increasing burden in looking after our patients. More tests to review. More letters to write. More documents to read. More technology. More time spent documenting in greater and greater detail. All technology seems to do is increase the workload.
The promise of technology has always been to make our lives easier; to share the burden and make work more interesting and less repetitive and tedious. Instead, we as the modern, 2020s doctors, are left still reliant on fairly old technologies dressed up in modern clothing. We still run into problems with communicating with colleagues and sharing information. We’re often still reliant on faxes, although electronic messaging is gradually increasing. But what we’re not seeing are any leaps and bounds in technology to make the fundamental role that we have to complete any easier.
In contrast, we as medical practitioners should have more time to listen to our patients and focus on getting them better with technology assisting us in a task, not hindering. Why is this not happening?
It would appear that the innovation is largely driven by the tech world rather than from within medicine. We are given solutions dictated to us by others, rather than born of our true needs and wants. We are merely a consumer of health technology rather than a creator.
I do not believe that doctors have no desire to innovate or advance the field of medicine. Quite the contrary, we are all heavily involved in research in one way or another. However, our focus has always been on our patients rather than on ourselves.
To this end, I would suggest that we turn our focus of innovation inwards to try to cocreate technology that makes our medical practice lives easier and thereby still works towards our ultimate goal – to improve patient care.
Rather than being the passive consumer of health technology, I would propose that we become its active creators. I would like to see medical technology accelerators whereby doctors and technology entrepreneurs, programmers and developers are able to collaborate to create the healthcare solutions for tomorrow’s patients.
I have been very fortunate to have been involved in a medical software start-up, Better Consult 1, which has now reached over 3 million patient-GP interactions. The road was very long and frustrating, with support from government almost impossible to obtain. In the end, I was able to progress only with a joint venture through personal contacts, without there being a system in place to help progress my solution further. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have my solution see the light of day and be so widely used, but I feel that we must band together to create a structured approach to advancing the field of medicine not just from a pharmaceutical perspective or a surgical technique perspective but from a technological perspective.
The American Medical Association has the Physician Innovation Network 2, a platform to connect doctors and “innovators”, why don’t we?
I would love to hear from others who are interested and propose to try to get an accelerator for medical software solutions up and running, to collaborate with our technologist colleagues and build solutions together. I have registered healthcatalyst.com.au to get the ball rolling.
Let’s build the future of Health Tech together.