Technology in healthcare – too slow, too fast and, maybe, just right

Technology in healthcare – too slow, too fast and, maybe, just right

When it comes to digital healthcare, it seems Australia is way behind the times. In this article for NAB Business View, Tim Shaw, the University of Sydney’s inaugural Professor of eHealth and also Director of Research at the federally funded Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, says we’re effectively digitising 18th century models rather than looking at how digital technology can transform the way we do things.

He also sees fundamental problems with the environment needed to support a true digital transformation.

“You might have a complex and highly technical surgical procedure but your discharge summary will be written on a piece of paper,” he says. “It isn’t that [other countries’] technology is way ahead of ours – we have it here today. We’re being hampered more by culture and government funding models than technology.”

But are digital devices reliable?

Meanwhile, some parents had their faith in digital devices badly shaken following the blackout of major blood sugar monitoring software.

According to Fortune, Dexcom’s wearable patch has transformed many diabetes patients’ lives by keeping tabs on their blood sugar levels in real time. Some devices can even transmit information to a smartphone app, which means parents and caregivers of diabetics can receive instant notifications of any dangerous changes.

But parents claim children could have died in their sleep during an outage over the whole of Thanksgiving Weekend. They were particularly angry about the delay in letting them know the device was down.

Yes, glitches can happen. But, if you’re constantly living in fear that your child’s life will be at risk again, technology is pretty pointless.

Pooling information could work

In the U.S., the new CURE ID data repository is being used to gather information from clinicians using FDA-approved drugs to treat infections.

“Our hope is that this app will serve as a connector among major treatment centers, academics, private practitioners, government facilities and other health care professionals from around the world and ultimately get treatments to patients faster,” Dr. Amy Abernethy, principal deputy commissioner at the FDA, said in a statement.

Given that antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to public health, let’s hope this tool gets it right.

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