In a recurring series, Patient 2.0 posts look at what goes on outside the marketing company and the exam room. Where are the other links in the healthcare chain and how can digital technology help them?
By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)
We’ve talked about the pharmacy, the outpatient center, even the medicine cabinet, in terms of where the patient has healthcare experiences. What about the acute setting – when the patient is admitted into the hospital itself?
As former med students ourselves and having had numerous conversations with physicians some issues are glaringly obvious. and The biggest problem we see, which could be fixed completely using technology, is a simple one: sleep.
Residents are routinely pressed into 30-hour shifts in hospitals, yet truck drivers aren’t allowed more than 11-hour shifts and pilots aren’t allowed more than 8. Why? Is it somehow worse to think about people dying or being injured by accidents on the road or in the air than from a misdiagnosis or an accidental overdose? It doesn’t make any sense to have patients’ lives in the hands of student doctors – hands that are not only untried, but beyond exhausted. Hazing isn’t allowed in frats anymore, so why is it still allowed in med school? This is madness. It isn’t about tradition. It’s about championing the patient’s health and safety. It literally is a matter of life and death.
This is a field exquisitely attuned to data, always striving to better patient outcomes. The idea of residents (or their patients) benefiting from working nonstop from daybreak Monday to lunch on Tuesday – surely that belongs in the days of leeches and bloodletting, of using whiskey and a stick as anaesthesia.
Hospital staffing and demand can be tracked and predicted with the precision with which it such forecasting is done in any other large facility. Processes and paperwork can be automated and digitized, minimizing the need for paperwork and maximizing the time spent learning and treating patients.
Technology can keep doctors in training healthier, and keep patients in less danger – and we should be working on that. Not only does it keep our patients safe, but it champions the well-being of our future physician customers. They need to get through their training safely and effectively, and we can help.