At the Royal Society of Medicine every year there is a medical students careers fair at which the Telemedicine & eHealth Section runs a stand. Unlike other sections such as cardiology and general practice, we don’t see telehealth and other related technologies offering a career for many – the stand is purely to raise awareness because, scary as it may sound, many of the students who have visited us in recent years have never been taught about these technologies at medical school. It is therefore good to see an article by Ben Heubl in Medcrunch, an online magazine aimed at tech-savy young doctors, discussing the reasons for slow adoption of telehealth (and telecare) which in part built on a meetup of the London Health 2.0 chapter last week.
In this context it’s also worth mentioning an article by Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on why some medical innovations spread fast, and other slowly. He begins by contrasting the rapid adoption of anaesthesia with the slow adoption of antiseptics, both of which were discovered at about the same time. From this he draws the lesson that where doctors see a clear benefit – in the case of anaesthesia, no longer having a patient struggling and screaming whilst being operated on – the adoption was fast. Where the immediate benefit is harder to see and in particular it challenges the modus operandi – washing hands, sterilising instruments and replacing frockcoats caked in blood for clean white operating gowns – as with antiseptics, adoption was much slower even though the impact on patient outcomes was dramatic. This not in any way a complete summary though – I would urge you to read this excellent piece in its entirety as there are many nuances…and important lessons for the future.
Rounding this post off, Pulse has just introduced a GP Guide to Telehealth (written and funded by MSD) which is short and to the point, balancing the UK experience of the Whole System Demonstrator with the very positive experiences of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Much to be welcomed and with the added bonus of CPD points too.