Technology vs Evidence


The pace of technology quickens every day.  As new technology develops it allows for the creation of more new technology so the pace at which technology accelerates compounds.  We see it every day in health care.  GVMH has a 128 slice CT scanner and when we bought the equipment we were only the 5th hospital in the country to have such a technologically advanced device.  We will be installing a 3D mammogram unit this fall and that technology has only been available since January of this year.  But the thing about technology is the day you implement it there’s something better and in health care technology lags evidence.

Whether it be new medicine of new patient care technology it is originally formed on theory and then it goes through rigorous clinical trial so the evidence to support the technology is always lagging behind the development of new technology.  You can make an argument for quicker access to new technology for patients suffering from a disease.  If the disease is terminal then the patient might not survive long enough for the technology to benefit them.  You can also make the argument that a long and thorough testing process is necessary to keep new technology from causing harm to patients.  I’m not wanting to entertain the debate on either side.

Over the last few years, technological advances have come so fast, it’s really hard to keep track of them any more. In the meantime, evidence based medicine shapes how we deliver healthcare. The latter is a fundamentally long process. Certain solutions such as simulations with cognitive computers might make them faster but these could never be as fast as technological developments. When patients start seeing the amazing innovations out there not being accessible to them in the everyday care, how will it transform the basic ways of practicing medicine?

Medicine is a science and all good science is based on evidence.  As the pace of technology quickens the demand for access to technology will increase as well which puts health care providers in a difficult spot.  Health care providers have to balance patient demands and desires with their knowledge of what’s best for a patient.  Explanation, instruction and education help patients gain perspective on “why” an injury or illness is treated a certain way but health care is a service industry and customer expectations have to be taken into account to guarantee return business.

Technology holds promise but evidence drives what’s best for the patient.  Finding the balance is difficult.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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