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Emergency Medicine Should Embrace Our Technological Overlords 

March 20, 2024

Written by Jason Lesnick

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This article is a call to action for emergency medicine clinicians to encourage us to embrace the opportunity to leverage digital technologies and shape their implementation within our healthcare system. 

Beep boop beep boop…we are here to stay
These authors shared in this article the purpose of the newly founded Digital Emergency Medicine Committee within the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians and some of its recent actions. The authors mention how ED overcrowding as well as human resource challenges were worsened by COVID but they have hope that similar to how other industries have leveraged technology we too can address the many existing problems in our field with technological advances. 

Some examples they note that were adopted and scaled out of necessity from the COVID pandemic include virtual care in EM contexts  (e.g., triage, treatment, consultations, or discharge). There has been increased use of home monitoring, wearables, data analytic technology, and some studies on predictive AI modeling are emerging. 

Despite the growth that has already occurred there are many reasons that adoption has been slow. The inability to perform an exam, increased fragmentation of care, a lack of evidence to evaluate and implement best practice models, unclear public funding models, and even anecdotal experiences where a person was referred to an ED after a virtual evaluation are some barriers the authors note. 

The authors emphasize EM physicians are uniquely positioned to help implement digital technological solutions as we embody adaptive and improvisational skills, regularly managing uncertainty, and maintaining an open mind to facilitate creative solutions.

One of their largest deliverables from the first year of the committee was to distribute a survey to compile a comprehensive inventory of ED-led virtual care programs across Canada. The authors plan to use lessons learned from existing programs to advocate for investment into supporting technological integration into workflows while avoiding frivolous virtual care as well as provide evidence on emerging digital EM technologies and establish consistent evaluation metrics. 

How will this change my practice?
As of right now, it won’t – but I do believe we will all be implementing these rapidly evolving technologies more and more throughout our careers. For example, there are multiple ( 1 , 2 ) AI models attempting to improve our ability to diagnose OMI that appear to be outperforming traditional STEMI criteria. Appropriate use of technology that can augment our ability to care for patients is something I am excited to watch develop. 

Source
Implementing digital emergency medicine: a call to action. CJEM. 2024 Feb;26(2):75-77. doi: 10.1007/s43678-023-00620-0. Epub 2023 Nov 25.