Will e-health get in the way of personalized care?

By Bruce Stanley

Everyone involved in healthcare today seems to be enamored of the explosion of new gadgets, devices, inventions, software programs and apps. It’s exciting to see such innovation coming to healthcare.

Many are convinced that we will no longer need paper records, statements, bills or written treatment plans. For that matter, we might not even need a face-to-face encounter with a doctor anymore. These claims and endorsements make us feel that these devices will connect us 24/7 with our primary care physician. It’s not as if the clinicians aren’t already busy.

Practical questions
Being connected 24/7 with one’s health provider sounds like a great concept, notwithstanding privacy and security concerns. But practical questions arise. Will your PCP want to take your text or tweet at 3 am? Will these devices prescribe therapy? Will they be overused, becoming a hypochondriac’s dream come true? Will we start to expect that e-health will solve all our concerns? Will our health systems be able to handle the massive flood of personal data floating through the cyber waves? What will security look like for all of the transmissions?

Many clinicians say they are already overworked, and that overlaying more requirements, no matter how valuable, will take time away from their primary role – seeing and treating patients.

I don’t want to minimize the excitement or potential of technology in healthcare. My perspective is just the opposite. The future is incredibly bright because of technology. What I do worry about is a healthcare system totally reliant on technology, where everyone is constantly checking their devices, lots of data is being transferred, and healthcare communication becomes confusing.

Such a system would make us immune to the real interaction necessary between patients and doctors – listening!

Bruce Stanley is a supply chain and contracting operations consultant with over 30 years in the healthcare industry, and an adjunct MBA professor teaching global supply chain, contracting and healthcare informatics and regulations. Currently he is project director for the MassMEDIC Med Tech Match Program. He served as senior director, contracting operations, for Becton Dickinson is a former chairman of the AdvaMed working group on vendor access-credentialing, and has collaborated with MassMedic and AdvaMed on legislative initiatives. In 2011, he co-founded The Stanley East Consulting Group, Ipswich, Mass., a global consulting practice specializing in supply chain, contracting, order fulfillment and project management for small and medium-sized companies, startups, and companies in transition or divestiture

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