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Will This Happen in Healthcare?

Posted on April 4, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a nerd (maybe even more than a bit) and I really enjoy reading venture capitalist blogs. One of my favorite reads is Fred Wilson. He posts something every day and he provides some amazing perspective on a lot of things. In a blog post a couple months back he posted the following quote, “programming these days is more about searching than anything else.”

For those of you who are not programmers in the room, you might be wondering how this applies to healthcare. Plus, you might be wondering if this statement is true. I assure you that it is true. The reason it’s true is three fold. First, the speed at which programming evolves is so quick that you have to be good at searching for the latest answer to your question. Second, the resources that are available online to answer those questions are phenomenal. You just have to know the right place to look. The amount of information you have to know to program is so great these days that it’s impossible for you to remember everything.

In many ways, all of these evolutions are a really great thing. As one tech friend of mine told me, “I realized pretty quickly that everything my company needs to know is already out there online. The value I bring is finding that information for them.”

I ask you then, “Will this happen in healthcare?”

I’d like to suggest that it’s already started to happen. I’ll never forget the doctor who visited my blog and commented that “the body of medical knowledge is so vast and complex that it’s impossible for the human mind to process it all.” Doesn’t that sound a lot like what I described above. The amount of medical knowledge and the speed at which it changes is impossible for someone to know and connect.

Is it possible that a future doctor will be better at searching for medical knowledge than they are at knowing that information off the top of their head? I think the answer is that they’ll have to be.

Don’t misunderstand me. Providers will still need an amazing baseline of information to be able to search and filter through the vast amount of data. However, they’ll likely remember where to find the answers versus knowing the answer off hand. Plus, their education and training will give them a baseline for understanding the data that they find. This is much the same as the programmer who know the basics, but learns more by searching and finding more information. The technology in this case doesn’t replace the person, but makes the person better.

I also feel the need to note that this won’t preclude other skills like empathy that are so important to the patient-provider relationship. You can’t use a tech search to help you show empathy to someone who’s just miscarried. Those skills will still be needed as much as ever. However, when it comes to medical knowledge I won’t be surprised if it becomes more about searching than anything else.

Memory Based Health Care to Information Based Health Care

Posted on April 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The incomparable Vince Kuraitis sent out a tweet a while back that I think is worth highlighting. It was actually a retweet of @Cerner_Network who seems to be quoting L Kolkman, Mosaica Partners, so I’ll give credit where credit is due. Here’s the core of what the tweet said:

From Memory Based Care to Information Based Care

I also love that the tweet included the hashtag #freethedata.

Vince has been a long proponent of the idea of freeing the data. Although, I think the idea of moving from memory based care to information based care is a much bigger deal than just freeing the data. Sure, freeing the data will be an important part of being able to provide information based care. In fact, it’s really quite necessary to provide proper health care.

The thing about this transition is that whether healthcare data is “free” and interoperable doesn’t really deny the fact that doctors are being inundated with more and more data every day.

Back in May of 2009 I wrote this post titled, “Body of Medical Knowledge Too Complex for the Human Mind.” If this was true in 2009, imagine how much worse it is today.

Even if we don’t take into account the wave of information that is and will be coming from those apps, devices, and quantified self-ers (which I assure you is coming. Even if we don’t consider all the data that doctors will be able to get from various HIE sources (which is also coming). Just within a physician’s own EHR software and the body of medical knowledge that’s being published each and every day, the physician’s memory is at its limit.

This isn’t a knock on doctors by any means. I was stunned when my wife went to her OB/GYN after not seeing her for a few years she was able to recount the most important salient points of my wife’s child birth history. This was all without the chart (which they’d filed away in permanent storage for some reason and didn’t have it available for the appointment).

Yep, many physicians are extraordinary people with extraordinary memories, but we all have our limits. Computers have their limits as well. We’ll never be without doctors and that’s a good thing. However, we’re slowly seeing the move to where a doctor really can’t be the best doctor without some technical assistance dealing with the overload of information. I think that’s a good thing.

Body of Medical Knowledge Too Complex for the Human Mind

Posted on May 20, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent comment, Steven suggested that an EMR and HIT in general might be necessary because the volume of medical knowledge is so large and complex that it’s too complex for the human mind. Here’s a short section of his comment:

Another set of reasons to adopt EMR, and sooner rather than later, are the reasons that are beyond the horizon. With the rate of change continuing to accelerate in the health care industry, along with our body of medical knowledge, I see a day where a person’s care plan is simply going to be too complex for a human brain alone to work out all the contributing factors. Sometimes I think we’ve already reached that point and haven’t quite realized it yet.

I absolutely love this concept of the body of medical knowledge being “too complex” for us to work it all out on our own. The idea that we need good clinical decision support systems, EMR and other technology we might not have even developed is really intriguing to me. Reminds me of my previous post about not knowing the true benefits of EMR.

The basic concept being that we won’t know the real benefits of EHR adoption until we have a platform for smart people to be really creative. Think about the Apple iPhone. If you look at the creativity that’s come out of the iPhone platform, it’s amazing. However, we would have never seen all this creativity until the platform was adopted in a broad way.

I believe that being able to managing and delivering all the medical knowledge out there is going to be one of those long term benefits we can’t realize until we have broad EMR adoption.