Written by Clay Smith
This is an interesting glimpse at how technology is and will be changing emergency medicine.
Why does this matter?
The era of pocket supercomputers is here. My smartphone could run circles around the Apple IIe we had when I was 10, with its 64KB of RAM and 1.023MHz processor. The iPhone I am currently using has 3GB RAM and a 2.39GHz processor. That’s a faster processor than my laptop. Technology is changing all aspects of life: apps to buy groceries; artificial intelligence to drive to grandma’s house; and it’s certainly changing emergency medicine. Here are a few ways.
Dr. Animoji will see you now
This is an opinion piece by Simon Carley and Simon Laing, of St. Emlyn’s blog and podcast and Resus Room, respectively. They see a few areas technology is and will continue to impact the ED.
- Education – They make the point that Life in the Fast Lane gets more internet traffic than JAMA. Free open access medical education #FOAMed (like what you’re reading) is gaining traction, making it easier than ever for learners to access education and making it interactive. Also use of virtual reality for low-frequency procedures or clinical scenarios is an exciting future application of technology for education.
- Decision Support – No longer do we need to memorize the PERC rule, EDACS, HEART Score, MELD score, or calcium/albumin correction. Apps and sites like MDCalc and Evidence Care can take complex computer decision algorithms or attribute matching that would be impossible to memorize and make them simple, accessible, and even weave them into the electronic health record.
- Connectivity – Not only do mobile devices make it easy to communicate with each other, devices are communicating vital patient information. Images can be uploaded in one place and read in another. Health information can be quickly shared between hospitals with the same electronic health record system. We already use telemedicine to provide care in remote areas. Meta-data trends can be tracked using large anonymized databases to research outbreaks or vital epidemiological information.
- Replacing Us? The authors don’t see technology and artificial intelligence replacing us yet. They still think the human touch and emotional connection will remain important. And we will need to make sense of the intelligence the machines provide us in the context of an individual patient.
How can emergency physicians harness the power of new technologies in clinical practice and education? Emerg Med J. 2018 Mar;35(3):156-158. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2017-207239.
Peer reviewed by Thomas Davis.