Perhaps a problem with writing a blog is that your message may be reaching entirely the wrong audience. One of my blogging colleagues, Barbara Duck of the Medical Quack, sent me an e-mail yesterday that illustrates my point. Barbara said;
“With Health 2.0 reading this week, I got a little overwhelmed. I guess all of the technology is great but when you sit down and try to explain it to a group of doctors that only have a fax and maybe a computer or 2 in their offices that are still paper guys, well it’s not a pretty picture and literally scares them. I did a talk a couple weeks ago and covered a few different areas and it was the first time any of them had heard of or seen HealthVault, so there’s a long ways to go. Sometimes when you are communicating with all the brilliant minds on the web you somewhat may lose track or forget about the “real” world that is out there when it comes to technology…… One meeting with the real world cures that in a few minutes though.”
Barbara’s words ring very true. Working at Microsoft, I get exposed to amazing technologies every day. Some of that technology is still in our research labs. Some of the tools I use regularly to do my work aren’t yet available to the general public. Then too, my job takes me around the world where I get exposed to advanced Information Communications Technologies in healthcare that are not yet widely available.
Yesterday I did a keynote for a national conference of clinical case managers. I’d say members of the audience were mostly female nurses between the ages of 40 and 60. I’m sure a lot of the information I shared with them seemed more like Star Wars than anything close to the reality they work in every day. I also encounter lots of physicians who are totally clueless that there will soon be penalties if they are not using electronic medical records. And just like Barbara Duck has experienced, the majority of community physicians and other clinicians I meet have never heard of HealthVault, Amalga, Google Health, Keas, American Well, PatientsLikeMe, Navigenics, 23andMe, and so on.
Dr. David Blumenthal (I wonder if most docs have even heard of him) has announced a “workforce training initiative” to educate more health information management professionals with expertise in electronic health records and related technologies. He says at least 50,000 new jobs are needed in the field. I would add, based on what I’ve experienced, that we will also need training for perhaps ten or twenty times that number of people; i.e. most of the physicians, nurses and other clinicians who are currently practicing in offices, clinics and hospitals all over America.
It’s not that these folks have their heads in the sand. Most of them are working so hard day to day in patient care, trying to stay afloat and keep their practices from going under, that they literally don’t have time to come up for air. So what happens when we expect them to use all of this technology and also give 45 million more people access to their services? That is going to call for one hell of a training program!
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft