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Dehumanizing healthcare, or just using technology to the fullest?

The “care” in healthcare just keeps getting better.

The medical field has been the fortunate beneficiary of miraculous innovations born of the technological age.  While many would argue that with revolutionary technology comes a society of idiots (Einstein alluded to it, it wasn’t my idea), no one would argue that the sky’s the limit when it comes to patient care.  Actually, Einstein was quoted more than once expressing anti-technology ideation;  kind of funny coming from the genius of our generation, isn’t it?

One of my personal favorite Einstein quotes:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

Well Albert, it’s a good thing we didn’t let your uncertainties hold us back.  Technology has also contributed a heck of a lot to humanity, and particularly to the field of medicine.  Should we really spurn every invention that was produced by the hi-tech/medical merger?  Should we pitch our pacemakers, or unplug our ultrasound equipment?  What are we to do when technology boosts the quality of life for all of humanity?

A few brilliant medical and engineering minds over at Johns Hopkins have decided to leave no stone unturned.  Along with a stellar reputation in medical advancement, there is a new reason to keep one eye on this institution:  its groundbreaking Emerge program has spawned a tablet application to be tested this summer for release into the healthcare market.  The app presents the healthcare team with a patient safety checklist for seven potential harms that can be used to monitor the patient’s condition and prevent a life-threatening situation.  For example, if a patient is attached to a ventilator, the medical team will be alerted by the computer to check for pneumonia and would be given recommendations on how to prevent it.  In the case of a patient who is still for too long, a warning would light up for the possibility of a blood clot.

The Emerge checklist deals with these seven patient harms:

  • Delirium due to improper medication dosag
  • Weakness acquired in the ICU
  • Issues arising from ventilator use
  • Blood clots
  • Central-line associated bloodstream infection
  • Loss of dignity
  • Patients’ treatment goals and preferences not being respected

The checklist idea is not an original one; the World Health Organization and Harvard School of Public Health developed a 19 item surgical checklist, but a lack of brevity may be the reason only 25% of hospitals routinely utilize the list.  Having produced an app addressing an abbreviated list of harms that are applicable to patients unable to monitor their own care,  Johns Hopkins hopes that its Emerge program will greatly benefit patient care everywhere.

Take that, Albert Einstein.


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This entry was posted on June 26, 2014 by and tagged , , , .
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