In 1962, the 14th episode of popular futurist cartoon, The Jetsons, aired in the US. George Jetson needed a medical check-up to renew his health insurance, at which point his doctor asked him to swallow a Peek-A-Boo Prober capsule, a medical device which travelled around his body transmitting pictures of George’s internal organs to a television screen. It is now entirely possible that within ten years it will be common for doctors to use an Ingestible Data Collector, filled with sensors, to give daily internal health scans and reports.
With advancements in healthcare software, machine learning, interoperability and innovative technologies, this is fast looking like more of an attainable goal rather than a futuristic fantasy, but organisations must have the right programs in place to ensure true clinical decision support is available.
Medicine can often be perceived as a conservative industry. For your average patient it may be hard to recognise any advancements when your trip to the doctor or hospital has changed very little in the past thirty years or more. However, there are some innovations waiting in the wings to disrupt the industry as we know it. Remember twenty years ago nobody had a smart phone, Google was about to launch and uber was just an adjective. Apply that same logic to healthcare and the sky is the limit.
Time is everyone’s enemy and in an age when life moves at the fastest pace humans have ever known, the process of making an appointment and then heading to your doctor to have your vital signs measured is set to change. Imagine, within ten years you will be able to walk in to a pharmacy and step in to a full body scanner which will offer an instant AI medical diagnosis based on your heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs, and possibly even incorporating a CT scanner to scan for any medical diseases. It will produce a prescription which can be filled then and there.
This echoes a January 17, 1960 edition of the Sunday comic strip Our New Age by Athelstan Spilhaus, which offered an optimistic look at the medical diagnostic instruments of the future. It predicted “Today, electronic instruments aid in every step of medical practice – examination, diagnosis, treatment and post-operative care. An “Instrumented suit” measuring heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and temperature, will soon make a check-up in one-minute. Someday, a patient will step into an “examination booth” and put on an instrumented suit; a diagnostic computer will receive the telemetered information, and, after checking by physicians, will automatically prescribe a course of action while you wait!”
It may have taken another 60 – 70 years to see this in practice, but now it is just around the corner.
While all these innovations are an exhilarating thought and give some insight into the rapidly growing importance of computers not only in healthcare, but in our everyday lives, the human element is still crucial. As the quoted text from the comic strip above indicates, the clinician’s analysis of all this content is still the vital link between the diagnostics and the correct diagnoses and treatment plan. If clinician’s can be assisted by having the collection and analysis of intelligently filtered, relevant, timely and concise data about each patient delivered to them in a simple format via a device, then they can spend their valuable time evaluating the data and making informed and sensible decisions, and that is what Clinical Decision Support is all about. It is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-do to enhance healthcare for all.
To learn more about Clinical Decision Support systems, the drivers and challenges involved and the basic CDS functionality required to start making positive change in the healthcare ecosystem, download the white paper now!