Healthcare IT: full integration in care
I am reading an excellent book: “Jacquard's Web” by James Essinger.
Joseph-Marie Jacquard was a master silk-weaver in Napoleonic France. Jacquard invented a loom that accelerated the rate at which master weavers could create their exquisite fabric by 25 times. The loom stored patterns and instructions for the beautiful designs on punched cards, which were in turn used by Charles Babbage to programme his Analytical Engine--the world's first computer.
The precursor of Jacquard's loom was the drawloom. Individual threads of the warp were lifted by it to create a path through which the shuttle was passed by a draw boy. The drawloom allowed patterns to be weaved at the unprecedented rate of two rows a minute (!)
This book is an excellent read and this caught my eye:
“The real problem was that the drawloom was not a machine at all. Instead, it was only a device for facilitating the manual weaving of patterns or images in the fabric...”
Facilitating the manual weaving. It seems to me that is what healthcare IT does: it's an aid to care rather than an integral part of care--still somewhere between the condition of an abacus and a calculator.
The picture is of the da Vinci operational robot which is used by surgeons to achieve unprecedented precision in minimally invasive surgery. It eliminates a surgeon's hand tremor, which is magnified by the lever effect of the long keyhole surgery instruments, and further improves visibility by the stereoscopic view of the site that its twin lenses provide.
Sure, it needs a surgeon to operate it remotely but how much longer before IT and tools are further integrated creating the medical equivalent of Jacquard's loom and freeing professionals to weave even better patterns of care?
Picture of the da VInci copyrighted property of Intuitive Surgical.