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Healthcare Business Solutions
June 8th, 2017

From Dave’s Desk: Does high technology always mean better care?

High technology (also known as “high tech”) in healthcare is breakthrough, revolutionary, first-of-its-kind innovation that fundamentally improves our ability to advance high quality patient care. As I think about this title question, I think about examining high tech in two ways: as it relates to products or services and as it relates to enabling patient care.

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High tech as it relates to products or services

When I think about high tech and its relation to products or services, medical devices such as joint replacements, stent graphs, CT scans, MRIs, and robotic surgery come to mind. These are high tech medical products that have direct patient contact.

There is a natural tension that arises when choosing what’s best for the patient among a variety of new and existing technologies. It’s important to keep in mind that we need to use the technologies we currently have in the most appropriate ways.

Just because we have a specific piece of technology doesn’t mean we should use it. For example, patient A needs a knee replacement and wants to continue to play tennis twice a week. Patient B lives a less active lifestyle and only wishes to maintain their current mobility. The longevity, performance, and durability specifications for the artificial joint for patient A could be different from those for patient B. We can’t look at one dimension of a patient; we need to look at the patient holistically to pick the most appropriate high tech medical device. This is a balancing act. Figuring out the most appropriate device is going to be crucial as we work as an industry to try to bend the cost curve while simultaneously providing high quality care to each individual patient.

It’s also important to remember that we’ve come so far in terms of technology. In 2017, we don’t always have to do open and invasive procedures because of the advancements we’ve made in technology. The key is finding a balance between creativity, innovation, and new technologies on the one hand and assessment, appropriate use, and evaluation on the other when it comes to high tech medical devices in healthcare.

High tech enabling patient care

When examining high tech and how it enables patient care I think about technology that allows clinicians to work and move faster, better, and more accessibly. Something as simple as the cell phone has enabled health systems to have faster access to clinicians when they need them. The cell phone has also allowed clinicians to have more flexible schedules so they don’t have to stay at home by the corded phone during on-call periods.

When we assess the use of technology in how we capture and manage data, such as remote monitoring of patients, we are able to better understand how to take care of patients in different, more effective ways. We see other new high tech items that come out, such as contact lenses that can measure certain body functions, or Fitbits, that become important patient care devices. These technologies are used at home or in our work places and help provide early indicators or preventive measures to clinicians and their patients.

The use of these new high tech devices provides us with information and data we previously didn’t have. This information enables us to consider redefining how we manage and take care of patients. As we move away from fee-for-service models to value-based payment structures we will have to consider the appropriate use of high tech tools more and more going forward.

In essence, I do not believe that high tech always means better care. I do believe that the appropriate use of improved technology can aid us in better care.

What do you think? Does high tech always mean better care? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Reed_Dave_5x7_7238David Reed is currently Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Healthcare Business Solutions for Cook Medical Incorporated. With over 30 years of life science industry expertise Dave holds an MBA from California Miramar University and serves as a member of the Indiana University Kelly School of Business Supply Chain and Global Management Academy Advisory Board.