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Full Integration of IT into Healthcare

da-vinci-healthcare.jpgWe need the full integration of healthcare and IT. Today it’s an optional extra for clinicians, perhaps not surprising, because applications are often little more than jumped up number crunchers that are irksome to use.

However, clinicians do adopt technology—think about surgery, antisepsis, anaesthesia and angioplasty—which leads to changes in practice. But most show a profound lack of interest in information technology. Two trends may change this.

The first, is the general need for IT to help healthcare to become safer and more efficient, economical and patient-centred. This is certain to be a push.

The second, is the general integration of IT into technology and instrumentation—this will become a pull.

In a recent FHIT entry I discussed the da Vinci surgical robot, which is an example of how IT, surgery and instrumentation can integrate. Such integration, together with better sensors and wireless applications, will make IT virtually invisible. Keyboards, cables, terminals and other detritus will be banished from wards to become part of the building infrastructure.

Manufacturers are alert to this second trend. GE Healthcare’s recent merger with IDX is an example of a technological giant acquiring the skills and expertise needed to exploit it.

This pull and push will bring about full integration of IT and healthcare. It’s an exciting time!


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Clinicians are not stupid. The fact that they don't jump at an IT solution might mean that the IT solution doesn't meet the current need. It is a dangerous strategy to blame the customer for not buying your product. What about asking them what their problems are, exploring ways to solve these problems, and if appropriate jointly conclusing that an IT option might be worth a look, outlining the spec, producing a proptype (quickly) and testing the concept first. You might be surprised!

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Mr Dodds has hit the nail on the head here. It is amazing the number of initiatives that get thrown at doctors, (both IT and otherwise) with a complete lack of dialogue or problem identification. It is unsurprising most are wary or the latest policy from on high.

If efforts were spent on identifying day to day issues and thinking "what is the best way to solve this problem" rather than expecting clinicians to jump at systems that were not designed with their priorities in minds, the situation would be much more productive. Clinicians are short on time, so if IT doesn't solve a problem for them, or make the complex simple, faster, or safer, it's probably not worth the time. Engagement with the idea goes a long way.

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