I think we sometimes forget that doctors are human beings. We expect them to be a repository of all medical information; an interpreter; a futurist; a robot who can consistently perform at 100% capacity without the need for any down time. In recent years, we have also expected them to be proficient in a range of technical programs to virtually and manually piece together and report patient results, diagnosis and treatment.
When you compare this to our personal lives where technology has eased a lot of the strain on our brains, the question remains: why aren’t the burdens of doctors getting any lighter?
Gone are the days where you have to write down or remember phone numbers – if it’s not in your phone, you can easily look it up online. Instead of trawling through volumes of encyclopaedias or text books, you can answer most questions in a matter of seconds thanks to Google. If you want to see how something is done, YouTube can provide you with a visual tutorial of just about anything.
So why don’t we have a Google equivalent for healthcare? Why can’t doctors access information from a myriad of sources from around the world in seconds via a simple to use search engine?
I read an article in PulseIT recently about The Sydney Adventist Hospital in Australia who plan to implement a clinical text search platform to help accelerate access to a range of health data that can be used for clinical as well as research purposes. [Read more here].
Given its based on natural language processing technologies, the new search functionality will enable clinicians, administrative staff and researchers to quickly find, retrieve, code and use the vast amount of health data that is stored as text which typically has to be manually retrieved and analysed.
Whilst the core concept is nothing new and is an embedded part of our day to day lives – in fact we collectively rack up 3.5 billion Google searches a day – medicine largely remains a Google-free zone, with a lot of manual effort still required.
If we start treating doctors more as humans when it comes to information and technology, and give them access to tools in their professional lives which have become embedded in our day-to-day lives, we have the opportunity to not only reduce the strain on doctors but deliver faster and more effective care to patients.