From the benign to the downright scary, medical technology dominated the headlines in 2018. And while our devoted public servants in Washington continue to debate the challenges of interoperability, runaway drug prices, and Meghan Markle’s baby bump, we thought it might be interesting to comb the front pages to select those that made our very jaded eye go, mmmmmm…
- (Not So) Smart Contact Lenses
- The highly anticipated glucose detecting lens project Verily had announced in 2014, folded in on itself last year. Researchers discontinued project updates in 2016, pulling preliminary tests before they even began and the team announced that they were stepping away from the medical device in November of last year.
- Dirty, Broken Endoscopes
- While this issue isn’t exclusive to 2018, the American Journal of Infection Control did a study last year on endoscope sterilization processes. They found that up to 71 percent of scopes approved for use, tested positive for bacteria and that there were damaged scopes at each site. Infections from scopes like these have been tied to 35 patient deaths since 2013.
- Fragmented Medical Records
- Health data management systems are as advanced as they’ve ever been but it’s still not uncommon for information to be missing or incorrect down the line. In one case, a physician had to rely on a patient’s spouse as a back up to relay vital dosage information to his nursing facility due to health data miscommunications. In another, a woman was informed, according to her medical records, that she had given birth twice when she had never ever been pregnant!
- Internet of Things? Internet of Threats
- While it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, it’s highly unlikely that a pacemaker will ever be hacked. MRIs and infusion pumps, however, are often fall victim to hacking with the intent to infiltrate a hospital’s data management system. Legacy systems that hardly see any downtime can cripple a hospital’s workflow if hacked.
- All of these Data Breaches
- Last year was a record year for health data breaches. In fact, it is reported that more than twice as many healthcare records were exposed in 2018 than in 2017. Some of these companies fell victim to theft and hacking, but others were charged with improper disposal and unauthorized access. Statistics say 9 out of every 10 breaches are a result of human error!
- Alarm Fatigue
- Reports have found that anywhere between 85%-99% of alerts don’t require medical attention and while the argument is valid that a medical professional should be over-prepared rather than under-prepared, this influx of alarms can desensitize even the most experienced nurse and lead to alarm fatigue.
- Tech Contributions to Physician Burnout
- A study surveying 254 physicians last year indicated that EHRs are the largest contributor to burnout. This outcome should come as no surprise considering that on average, doctors spend more time managing EHRs than they do treating patients. That separate study published in the Annals of Family Medicine determined that physicians spend about 6 hours of their 11 hour work day on EHR data entry.
What will dominate the headlines in 2019? Drop us a note with your predictions at firstname.lastname@example.org.