For those of us in and around the medical community, innovation is upon us. Adoption of practices from other high-risk and service industries, along with the data being gathered under the ‘big data’ movement, is fundamentally changing the way we are delivering care to patients. Technological breakthroughs, and the ability to deliver data and functionality to end-users, have generated exciting new spaces in medical technology and innovation. Both redesign and innovation promise to change medicine as we know it.
While these are great developments, however, innovation can sometimes lack ‘clinical punch.’ Well-intentioned projects, devices, and apps don’t always equal useful ones, and new innovation that works in labs doesn’t always work in clinics or hospital floors. This is why many start-ups seek physician ‘health coaches’ or advisors early in their growth. It is crucial for providers, patients, and innovators to understand what innovation can and cannot do to improve health.
For physicians, nurses, and other providers practicing in this new digital era, it is also particularly important to curate and select the best from available options for our patients. Some innovative clinics are now outfitting their patients with a personalized set of monitors and devices to record biometric information that doctors and their teams can use in a more real-time way to improve health (e.g. blood pressure control). Others are trying to link their information into larger health system EHRs. As new apps and devices continue to flood the market, it will be crucial for providers to be able to advise patients about which options will serve their needs. We need to know what technology will really be helpful at the point of care.
Through this column, The Point of Care, I hope to explore this issue more. I plan to highlight tools that seem clinically useful and provide perspective on potential strengths and weaknesses. I plan to review new technology and share my experiences using it. Ultimately, I hope to emerge from all of this with knowledge that helps me and my readers apply innovation to healthcare effectively, and highlights the ultimate point of the care we offer: better health for our patients.
Joshua is passionate about using medical innovation to change how healthcare is delivered and to improve overall health. He is currently a resident physician at Brigham & Women's Hospital and a Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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