Dirk Stanley, MD, MPH, is a board-certified hospitalist, informaticist, workflow designer, and former CMIO. To get his perspectives on technology and healthcare, and to kick off our #DrHIT series, we sat down with him to discuss the role of mobility in healthcare, telemedicine, consumer devices like wearables, and his wish-list for new technology to improve patient care.
Intel: How important is mobility in the connected medical practice?
Stanley: Mobility is having access to information when and where you need it most. It is vitally important, especially in the cases where medical professionals are working in different settings – inpatient or outpatient settings, for example. We need access to all relevant information for each patient that may have been previously stored in different parts of a facility. Access to this information at a moment’s notice is very important.
Intel: We think that IT deployment is done by the IT professionals, but what should the role of clinicians be in testing and selecting devices?
Stanley: It is important to have physicians involved with selecting healthcare technology that is used on the front lines of healthcare. The practitioners using these devices understand their own needs and what types of functions are necessary to provide the best care. When it comes to battery life, an interface or an entire list of requests, it is important to engage the users early to understand their requirements and meet and exceed expectations. Additionally, as collaboration between physicians continues to grow, there are opportunities to connect with specialists around the globe at a touch of a button. The technology we deploy, whether with electronic medical records or communication devices, makes it all possible, but stops short without the perfect device.
Intel: Speaking of communication, how does video telemedicine affect patient care?
Stanley: Telemedicine makes it possible for better distribution of care, providing patients opportunities to meet with specialists they normally wouldn’t be able to, due to health, travel or budget concerns. In the case of the Baby Boomer generation, demand for healthcare is rising, while demand for cost cutting and better resource utilization equally increases. Telemedicine makes it possible to distribute better care – building therapeutic relationships through video connection. It is possible to establish a true connection remotely with a physician, therapist, nurse or care giver.
Intel: Is the increased use of wearables reshaping healthcare IT?
Stanley: Wearables are a very interesting concept, and we continue to collect medical data which was not readily available only a few short years ago. We have a great opportunity to look at patients’ patterns in their day-to-day, watching blood pressure, glucose level and heart rate, etc. While it’s great to have all of the data, the important aspect is making sense of the information and understanding any patterns that are vitally important.
Intel: If you could implement a ‘magic wand’ technology into the healthcare IT field, what would it be?
Stanley: In a perfect world, a portable patient chart would be the most ideal piece of technology. It would only be attached to one patient so wherever they went, their complete medical record would follow, along with all of the vitally important information such as medication lists, radiology, doctors’ notes, lab results, and more.