Inspirational HIT Insights – A HIMSS19 Experience

So, the best thing that happened to me last week at HIMSS19 was getting an opportunity to meet a speaker that I have found to be very inspirational, was Dr. John D. Halamka, International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess System at a Lunch and Learn hosted by Arcadia on February 13th. Dr. Halamka spoke about his travels around the world and talked about visits to remote villages of Bihar in Northern India and how, while many people in that country have little to no access to regular healthcare facilities, but have access to 4G technology and $30 for a 64mb mobile android phone. 

In a country of 1.3 billion people, there are only about 600 thousand healthcare providers! The shortfall is tremendous! He and his team treated a woman named Pooja who had to sell her cow to get uncessary medical treatment recommended by individuals posing as healthcare providers. He and his team started a Gofundme to buy her cow back which he was able to! That, my friends is a provider that has empathy! Way to go Dr. Halamka!

In cities in China where people wake up and decide they want to go to the doctor (he noted that there were no primary care providers) hospitals sometimes get 20 thousand ambulatory visits a day! Managing such a volume can challenge even the most dedicated healthcare provider. It might be difficult to understand quality metrics in that environment, at least from our point of view.

Before I left the session, I had to ask Dr. Halamka about what he feels about the Holy Grail of seamless interoperability nationwide. He pointed me to the Argonaut Project which he has great hope for and believes is a good step in moving us towards that elusive, yet hopeful goal of healthcare interoperability. Needless to say, I came away with a lot of hope and positivity after that amazing session with Dr. Halamka.

The picture of Dr. Halamka can be found on his blog, “Life as a Healthcare CIO“, which I recommend everyone to follow.

 

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Employment in the Generation of AI

As we get closer to HIMSS19 and people turn their sights to Orlando starting February 11th, my focus will be on Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain and their potential impact on our healthcare ecosystem.

One of the impacts that I believe will possibly result in their adoption in whatever way, will be the change of jobs that we currently have and introduce additional automation. There is an interesting article published today in the BBC about this. One of the points that the article makes is that according to the consulting firm McKinsey, globally, we are set to lose as many as 800 million workers by robotic automation. It was staggering to see that number.

Are educational institutions educating our students for today or will these students of today already be “automated out” of the workforce as with many others in society. Time will tell. Read the article here for more insights.

Technology Trends for 2018 – How does healthcare benefit?

With the International Consumer Electronics Show set to be in Las Vegas January 9th to the 12th, the stage is set for the trends that will define the year ahead and with it, what’s in store for the world into the future. When I was a kid and broke my leg playing real football (soccer to my friends here in the US), my Dad got me the book “Arthur C. Clarke‘s 1982 sequel novel 2010: Odyssey Two“. I read that book along with the Back to the Future movies and imagined George Jetson type vehicles flying around everywhere by then. While that may not come to pass, we do have quite a few things that I could not have dreamed of back then. The internet came just a few years after and has revolutionized the world in which we live in and has leveled the playing fields for many (ergo, “Flat World” economics).

An article on CNN.com I read over the weekend, helped to give us some of the trends we might be able to see this year:

  1. Voice Assistants – With Alexa, Bixby, Siri, Cortana and more on the way, these Assistants are everywhere. These seems to be the name of the game going forward. We will be assisted with everything we do and the partnerships & collaborations that will be gained with these voice assistants will only increase. Medical applications for patients could be where an Alexa or Siri could be used to reach out for help either Inpatient or Home Monitoring of patients.
  2. Smart Cities – Will Smart Cities help in areas of energy conservation, smart air quality technology, home automation, electric bikes, etc. “Smart Care Facilities” can leverage the same technologies that can be used for home or office.
  3. Sports Technologies – While Sports Technologies will be primarily in the areas of wearables, augmented (virtual) reality and sensors, these technologies can be leveraged to help with recovery of injuries and give healthcare providers the ability to provide a better care and recovery plan.
  4. Robots – When I was a kid, watching Richie Rich’s robot (Irona) or George Jetson’s robot maid (Rosie) were fascinating to think about in a fantasy world. When my kids were born, the hospital that they were born in had a robot named Sam that went through the halls delivering food 9I can’t remember if we were able to utilize it or not….it was so long ago) Maybe this year, we see the if robotics has the ability to be useful with the maturing of artificial intelligence.
  5. Vehicles (Cars) – The technologies inside vehicles now are leaps and bounds beyond what there was even a few years ago. With internet enabled vehicles, couple with voice assistants and even cars that are tuned to brain waves, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as of now (yes, I did read that the other day…check out https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-03/brain-waves-will-make-nissan-s-car-of-the-future-a-better-ride)

All in all, healthcare should look at these trends and be able to leverage and prepare for the future because it will be here sooner than you think and millennials will start to gravitate to those providers that respond to their taste and time demands. While still catering to the Baby Boomers over the next 20 years, Generation X & Y, millenials will start to build loyalty to their provider of choice and just like any other product or service, will provide their loyalty at a younger age and stay with it for life. (I’ve use the same care provider now for 18 years; how about you?).

It’s all about Heart Health

A friend and classmate of mine passed away this weekend of a heart attack. He was a retired officer of the Indian Armed Forces and fought the good fight against terrorists as part of his mission. Both his parents were in the armed forces and met, I understand when his mother, a doctor, tended to his father’s war wounds. I guess the “Nightingale Effect” then occurred. An unsung hero, he will be missed by his friends and family. His passing did strike close to home, as my own late father passed away over 30 years ago at the same age as my friend and even though we thought that there were no symptoms at that time, he must have been experiencing these for a while and passed away suddenly. The time that he could have been saved though were altered as I recall seeing and hearing the Hong Kong Police Officer come in and interview him while the ambulance was on it’s way (to presumably make sure that he was really having a heart attack) during his heart attack; precious minutes lost. Although some heart attacks can be sudden and intense like the one my Dad went through, most heart attacks begin slowly, with mild pain and symptoms. Knowing the symptoms can help save your life.

The warning signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort – An uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body – Can include pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms or your back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath – With or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs – The other signs may also include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, arm numbness or extreme fatigue.

Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 911 or the equivalent in your country — make sure that don’t drive. Fast action can save your life or someone else’s. When you call 911/Emergency, paramedics can start providing care and let the Emergency Department know they’re on the way.

Physician Burnout! A disturbing trend

Burnout1

Since my last post about my late Grandfather, I didn’t have the motivation to write; but then I thought about all of the times he encouraged me to write, it reminded me to follow my passion, so here I am with my thoughts again, this time on the disturbing trend of Physician Burnout.

Physician BurnoutOver the last 7 years since the time of the “Great EMR Implementations”, we have always discussed physicians retiring because they did not want to learn technology and use the EMR. I put it down to older physicians not keeping up with the times. I’m not so sure about that anymore.  The reason being that one of my friends who is a physician went through a very visible burnout episode that surprised everyone recently. She said that she was working until the middle of the night trying to keep up with documentation and it finally became too overwhelming for her to take. This surprised me tremendously. This wasn’t something that happened to younger, more savvier physicians…or so I thought. IBurnout2n a June 29th, 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review, points such as loneliness at work is also a factor that is identified as the reason for burnout (it doesn’t discuss physician burnout in particular though). Similarly, in a June 22nd article in Time Magazine, titled “Doctor’s on Life Support”, it starts by saying that “Doctors are stressed, burned out, depressed, and when they suffer, so do their patients. Inside the movement to save the mental health of America’s doctors“. The  signs of stress are evident. IT departments can and should do more to collaborate with clinic practices and primary care and specialties to help develop efficiency within the every day use of technology. Technology “A-Teams” should be identified to work with their physicians, understand the challenges that they are facing, whether in the EMR, wireless “dead zones” in clinics that drop the connection, old laptops and PCs that need to be updated, that sometimes may mistakenly be attributed to an EMR deficiency or other areas where the process can be smoother for the physician and/or clinic staff.

All of us as Healthcare Information Technology professionals needs to bear in mind that we need to do all we can do reduce and eliminate physician burnout and improve the processes for the physician so that we can enable them use technology for better, faster and more efficient patient care. The burden of EMR documentation should be lessened and, at the end of the day, it will be the patient that will gain and the quality of care will increase with a happier, less stressed, care provider.