• 11 APR 12
    • 4
    Compassion instead of technology will improve healthcare

    Compassion instead of technology will improve healthcare

    Being healthier and improving the success of treatment is much more (and perhaps much simpler) than  applying the latest medical device technology, tablets, smartphones, video conferencing and social media .

     Everyone has alternatives.

    We are predisposed to select alternatives based on the similarity of our friends and colleagues to ourselves. It used to be called “Keeping up with the Joneses”.

    A business developer searching for a solution to improve patient care, will be influenced by the fact that her friends and colleagues at work all have an iPhone, or an Android, or a Blackberry and sometimes all 3. Her friends and family are all wired with high-speed mobile Internet. Many are active on Facebook and avid users of other social media such as Twitter.

    An engineer working for medical devices manufacturer, will be influenced by tue engineering colleagues on his team and might select nano-technology and flexible 80 micron thick silicon films to monitor patient vital signs instead of considering social media.

    But – as Dr. Jan Bruckner has brilliantly pointed out in her posts; many people do not have access to tablets and social media because they are too poor. Perhaps some of the answers will come from commodity mobile medical devices, with futuristic remote monitoring of vital signs using nano-technology. With the current state of mobile implanted medical device R&D, it will be probably a few years before the FDA performs scientific and regulatory review and provides premarket approval for the safety and effectiveness of a cheap stick-on vital sign monitor, thinner than a bandaid that broadcasts vital signs to a caregiver’s smartphone. For now, we’ll have to make do with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.

    While it’s true that technology can help bridge the gap between the clinical knowledge of the healthcare provider and the personal experience of the patient – it also requires choosing the right technical, human and ethical means to bridge that gap.

    A little bit of compassion from doctor to patient and better information from patient to doctor improves trust.

    Does a patient and family truly understand the procedure? Will a surgeon do the procedure without getting true informed consent from the patient?

    Should health care professionals should coerce people out of harm’s way and urge them to be good citizens and productive members of society? What is the limit of good health care and who should make that decision?

    In a setting of collaborative medicine, what happens if a single member or multiple members of the team cannot meet their clinical obligations and cannot competently care for the patient? Do we have loyalty obligations to our clinical colleagues? What happens if the team members have unequal status?

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