Sunday, November 4, 2012

My vision of how medical practice would be like in the future

I was having my meals at the hospital kitchen when I found myself engaged in a conversation with my fellow residents about how medical practice would be like in the future.  Considering the amazing rate at which technological advances are surfacing in the field of communication and information access through the internet, it is not impossible that medical practice will experience ripples from modern technology.

            These days, going through the daily grind at the wards, I think at least one in ten medical interns owns an Ipad (or any tablet for that matter).  Although probably, most of the time, they might use it as an easy access to watch their downloaded movies or television series, they most likely have saved medical electronic books in those gadgets. 

            In this light, I was thinking, that probably in the future, all medical practitioners will own a tablet through which they can access all the data regarding their patients, particularly those who are admitted at the hospital.

            Picture this:  A resident admits a patient under the service of an attending physician.  The resident physician calls the attending about the admission, tells him or her about the presenting complaint of the patient, the resident’s primary clinical impression, and the laboratory tests which the resident plans to order.  The attending physician agrees to the resident’s plans, then before terminating the call, the physician asks the resident to send through text message the name, age, and room number of the patient, and the access code.

            Now what is this access code?

            It will be a code with five characters, which may be composed by numbers or letters or a mix of those, and it will be through this code by which the attending would access the general data of the patient as well as the laboratory results for this admission.  Additional access codes may be requested for hospital records from previous hospitalizations in the same institution.

            The access code will be convenient to both the attending and the resident physician.  The resident would not be bugging the people at the laboratory if the results of the tests are already available.  It will save the resident a lot of time from waiting for the final report to be sent to the ward. Aside from this, the physician could clarify the laboratory results for himself, in case he or she needs to.  

            I was also thinking of access codes so that the attending physician could see the patient through a CCTV installed in the patient’s room.  However I instantly developed aversion to this idea since I think installing a CCTV inside the patient’s room would go beyond the line of patient’s privacy.  

            I could not anymore recall why we started that conversation on how medical practice would be like in the future.  This vision may come true, it may not, but who knows? Now I remember, so crystal clear, that during my childhood days, I used to play telephone and I wished we only had to bring the handset itself - no bulky receivers or tangled telephone wires.  I must have had the first vision, the original idea, that gave birth to the mobile phone.  The mobile companies owe me big time then, if that's the case.  But then your sarcastic laugh brings me back instantly to reality.  It's time to go back to work and go back to the hospital ward.  (My laughter inserted here.)


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