How Technology Will Create a Safer Healthcare System

healthIt’s one of those great conundrums. Despite medicine being a highly intellectual field often at the cutting edge of science, we all too often remain near the bottom in terms of our information technology use. Maybe it’s the culture of medicine, a view that one should master everything and do everything despite knowing that this is an impossible goal? Maybe it’s lagging on the part of administration who may not understand the potential role of technology in the daily workflow of their physicians? Or maybe it’s just that we as a profession have never sat down and tried to understand what we’re missing, what we can do, and where we should go with the incorporation of informatics technology?

I choose to believe it is largely the last of these: that we as a profession have not yet began to put proper thought and action to purpose in terms of intelligently using technology to augment our abilities as clinicians.

Think about this scenario: You are on the wards covering 16 patients. Most of your patients are receiving multiple medications – anti-hypertensives, antibiotics, etc. – and let’s say one of them was getting a transfusion overnight as often happens. The team notices that patient begins having trouble breathing and chooses to administer a dose of Lasix which causes resolution of the problem. However, this same patient has a reaction to Lasix and develops allergic interstitial nephritis, which manifests with increased creatinine and reduced GFR on the next set of labs. Continue reading

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