Archive for Future of Healthcare

How technology affects the physician-patient relationship

A couple of recent readings tie nicely together. In the latest issue of The Hastings Center Report, Naalla Schreiber tells of a hospital stay during which her complaints were not easily attributable to any obvious medical problem. Her physicians used the code words “functional syndrome” to describe her problems, and she described her treatment as less than pleasant. Until of course, tests finally provided a medical diagnosis, confirming what she had suspected all along. In the meantime, she became what many physicians would regard as a difficult patient. It’s not like Schreiber is new to the medical profession either: she is a practicing psychiatrist. Her analysis of the situation puts some of the blame on technology:

“As medicine becomes more technology-oriented, less time and emphasis are placed on learning and practicing the art of the doctor-patient relationship. Patients, are viewed as the sum of their diseases, rather than as unique individuals with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that impact their health.” 

Well said, and here’s to improved communications!

The independent practitioner is also being hit from all angles, one of which is the drive toward more technology. The New York Times relates the story of a physician whose business is threatened by lower reimbursement and the need to see more patients in order to continue as a viable business. His patients like the extra time and personal attention he enjoys providing them, but he cannot do both. The physician’s son explains that his father’s business model “is going to be extinct very soon,” and notes that the amount of time and money needed to employ an EHR system would be another blow to his ability to keep the business going. Fewer and fewer physicians are self-employed, as more join large groups and specialize.

Is there a balance then? Must the “personal touch” and technology be mutually exclusive? Is there a way medicine can become more technology oriented while maintaining respect for the human component? Does it matter? Each patient has a narrative, and so does the medical profession. How will that narrative read in another ten years?

 

– Rod Piechowski

© 2011 The Art of Medicine and Technology

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Technology as Gateway to Knowledge

(This entry is also available as pdf download: see end of article for link.)

“Meaningful Use” is upon us. Hospitals around the country are scrambling to assess its implications which, aside from the obvious financial investment that must be made, will affect healthcare providers in other ways for many years to come. Since change is inevitable, this is the perfect time to look beyond the short-term aspirations of meaningful use, and identify what healthcare should look like into the future, maybe even as far as 20 years. The government however, is not likely to create that vision, so the task will be left to those providers who are bold enough to shape new models for healthcare delivery. » Continue reading “Technology as Gateway to Knowledge”

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Healthcare supply chain next in line?

One component of the healthcare picture that doesn’t get nearly enough consideration is the supply chain. Most people think of it as managing “stuff in boxes,” but it’s really more complex than that. At some point along the way, “stuff in boxes” becomes point of care necessities that have a direct impact on the safety and efficiency of healthcare operations. It is believed that there is a staggering amount of inefficiency within the supply chain, with both direct and indirect cost savings yet to be had. This blog, The Healthcare Hub, is a good place to start to learn more about current US and global efforts to change all that. Unfortunately, the supply chain hasn’t been widely seen as playing an important role in how our care delivery system works. That needs to change.

-Rod Piechowski

Copyright © 2010, Rod Piechowski, Inc. Consulting

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Reform is Technology Dependent

Information technology is scattered widely throughout the health reform bill that was passed in the US. In order to accomplish many of the goals stated in the bill, information technology will be increasingly investigated as one component that might offer a degree of savings or capability to the system. Whether we are talking about checking for a patient’s insurance eligibility, medical homes or improving patient access to information, technology is at the heart of the solution. And it isn’t really just technology that will be responsible for this change: what we’re really talking about is information management, using technology as a modernized means of collecting, storing and moving information throughout the system. » Continue reading “Reform is Technology Dependent”

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