New technology may be the key to help properly diagnose patients and avoid common errors that affect a doctor’s judgment, such as poor communication, cognitive factors, and poor teamwork. According to CNN, although there are some concerns about the quality of care in data-driven healthcare, it’s expected that data science will eventually replace 80 percent of doctors’ responsibilities. Future technology will reduce costs, reduce physician workloads and improve patient care overall.
Several studies have pointed out issues in the healthcare system that are leading to unnecessary illnesses in patients and death. Almost 40,500 patients die in ICU in the United States each year due to misdiagnosis, according to a John Hopkins study. Another study revealed that system-related factors and cognitive factors were involved in 65 percent and 75 percent of studied diagnostic error cases, respectively. Premature closure, which occurs when the physician sticks with the initial diagnosis and ignores reasonable alternatives, was the most common cause of error.
Computers may prove to be superior to the limited mental capabilities of physicians. The technology would be able to consider the latest research articles, remember the thousands of diseases, and integrate considerations of patient symptoms, history, demeanor and environmental factors. Data-driven healthcare can also lead to more consistent diagnosis and treatment plans, since multiple physicians who look at the same patient can report varying diagnoses.
However, the technological innovations in healthcare would take time to develop and perform efficiently. Critics also argue that healthcare is also about building relationships between patients and their providers. Some believe that data-driven technology will lead to less personal care. While many people agree that you can get questions answered better by a person than a computer, those who are in favor of the new technology explain that nurses, nurse practitioners, and other non-MD caregivers can serve in this role and cost less than physicians.
Senior VP of engineering at Nuance Healthcare, Joe Petro, explains that patients, providers or health IT vendors will never endorse a technology that does not put patient care first. However, Petro emphasizes that if we don’t find ways to apply technology and best practices to address healthcare inefficiencies and out of control costs, “then issues like the ‘fiscal cliff’ and ‘debt ceiling’ will continue to haunt U.S. government and the general public at large for the foreseeable future.”