In the same way that prescription medications can’t work if a patient doesn’t take them, technology isn’t effective if it isn’t adopted and incorporated into the routine of people’s lives in a meaningful way. Henk van Houten, the Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Royal Philips expressed this same difficulty in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) products for healthcare: “As with any change driven by technology, the hardest part is not the technology itself. The hardest part is getting that technology to work in a way that is accepted, trusted, and embraced by people.”1
Technology is not truly integrated until it is used successfully by people.
Enabling the Advantages of Technology Starts Early On
For patient-facing technology to be successful, it needs a lot of champions from the beginning. Of course, selecting technology that adequately balances robustness with ease of use is important. But beyond that, choose a provider who values the end game. One that recognizes your goals and helps you build teams and provides resources. An IDC survey revealed that the skill and dedication of the project team is the most impacting factor to project success.2
It is important that everyone sees the full value of the technology and that those who will need to rely on it have proper training to use it well enough to gain any efficiencies. In patient-facing technology, it is equally important that staff understand the benefit the technology can enable for their patients. Staff need to perceive championing the technology as part of enabling better care.
As an example, Dr. Jeffrey H. Millstein, recognized that by adjusting how he made his own notes, he could share them through the EHR portal and make them a valuable reminder for his patients. While he is with his patients, he validates the technology reminding them of their portal access and to look for the information he will be specifically adding for them. He explains, “…if my notes are collaborative in nature, then I can engage my patient while writing them, making the EHR less of a barrier. While there is a little extra up-front effort, my patients may be safer and better informed.”3 This demonstrates technology integrated into care—the physician expanded care by including the technology in a way that enhanced his care and he noted the value to the patient.
Continually Leverage Technology to Do the Human Part of Jobs Better
Technology doesn’t care. People are still required in good healthcare. This 2017 article reminds us that it is aptly named the medical arts: “Even if a machine could determine an appropriate plan — and as we know there are few absolutes in medicine — we still want to work with a doctor, who has been trained to talk us through the options and administer the treatment protocol — and who understands that art in the science.”4
Technology should always be in support of a patient’s care and never take the care providers away from caring. As this New York Times article states: “To the extent medical treatment relies on the human touch, on the trust of patients in their doctors and on physicians’ embodiment of authority, a computer-delivered cure may never feel complete.”6
People have the empathy and perspective that provides patients confidence in their care decisions. According to technology investor Jack Ma “People will always surpass machines because people possess wisdom.”7 Embrace technology well enough that you gain the advantages and that you retain or recover your capacity to demonstrate your human side of care.
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1. Houten, H. v. (2018, May 15). Why AI in healthcare needs a focus on people, not technology. Philips Innovation Matters. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/news/archive/blogs/innovation-matters/20180515-why-ai-in-healthcare-needs-a-focus-on-people-not-technology.html
2. Boden, S. (2017). Your training budget is the key to success. ArcUser Fall 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.esri.com/~/media/Files/Pdfs/news/arcuser/1017/your-training-budget-is-the-key.pdf
3. Millstein, J. H. (2018, July 16). The clinician progress note as a tool for improving patient experience. The Beryl Institute Blog. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.theberylinstitute.org/blogpost/947424/303169/The-Clinician-Progress-Note-as-a-Tool-for-Improving-Patient-Experience
4. Miller, R. (2017, January 15). Technology can't replace the human touch. TechCrunch. Retrieved September 14, 2018 from https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/15/technology-cant-replace-the-human-touch/
5. Lake, E. T. (2015, September 16). Missed nursing care is linked to patient satisfaction: a cross-sectional study of US hospitals. BMJ Quality & Safety. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/25/7/535
6. Frakt, A. (2015, December 7). Your new medical team: algorithms and Physicians. The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/upshot/your-new-medical-team-algorithms-and-physicians.html?_r=0
7. Jack Ma. South China Morning Post. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.scmp.com/tech/leaders-founders/article/2115033/simple-reason-technology-will-never-replace-humans-according