In a modern era, a doctor has quite a substantial check list to complete from the moment a patient steps into his office until he/she steps out. With the era of the electronic medical records, this task can sometimes be more daunting than thought. Integrating technology into the work flow of doctors can be challenging for many software and hardware developers of health information technology.
Here we try to list some of the steps a doctor will likely have to do during a consultation period.
1. Checks the patient’s history
2. Calls the queue number
3. Talks to the patient. (This will be ongoing throughout the consultation)
4. Keys in vital information into the system as the patient complaints are heard
5. Performs physical examination
6. Checks the blood results
7. Advises the patients and explains the diagnosis or any changes that are made
8. Checks the prescription and re-prescribes
9. Decides on the next laboratory testing that is needed
10. Decides on the next appointment date
This process is repeated for every patient that walks in through the door.
This may vary from practice to practice but truth be told that the amount of work that the doctors have to perform is much more than just listening to the patient.
Improper technology can be very disruptive rather than be of help. A slow system can delay the entire process and only prolongs the period of consultation and lengthening the duration of the entire clinic. A system that poorly understands the work flow can also have a similarly detrimental effect. Having too many software systems, that can hardly “talk” to each other, can be a nightmare for doctors. Manoeuvring through the different systems is nightmarish and only pushes adoption of any system down. Lack of mobility also stunts the usability and stifles any interest that physicians have in technology.
There are so many places where technology has hampered the productivity rather than aid it. Moving a health environment into the digital realm requires thorough planning involving hospital administrators, doctors, pharmacists, allied health, technologist, programmers, researchers etc. If it took Apple and Google decades to perfect their art, there is no shortcuts for hospitals too.
Sadly, jumping on the digital bandwagon proved to be too enticing for many, only to realize halfway through that the vision has become less clear and the journey, fraught with troubles that threaten to derail it.
So is technology really helping?