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A noted anesthesiologist and respected professor is appealing to multi-million dollar IT and Health Technology companies developing innovations and gadgets to include physicians in the development and testing process to effectively bridge the gap between technology and its end-users.

In an open letter published at Venture Beat, Dr. M. Christine Stock from Northwestern University made this bold statement to tech companies: doctors’ insights and opinions are crucial to realizing “the potential of the digital revolution.”

Physicians working on health tech innovationsThe article was penned after years of frustration over doctors’ reluctance to embrace new technology because they were unfamiliar and not clearly explained, and the industry’s exclusion of those in the medical field. A meeting of the minds would not only make a bold impact on the future of healthcare technology, but also bring forth more advanced and cutting-edge discoveries.

“Leaving end-users (physicians) out of the product development process leads to unanticipated problems such as unintuitive and frustrating workflow, taxing documentation requirements and nonsensical and inaccurate cut-and-paste progress notes. Certainly, it takes time to learn any new tool, and new technologies do force workflow evolution. But once the adaptation period passes, our tools should improve documentation and workflow and enhance the assessment of practice patterns and quality measures,” the esteemed researcher said, adding: “Digital tools do little to help physicians embrace and apply the enormous amounts of new medical information coming out each day.”

Dr. Stock’s sentiments were echoed by Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy in a recent event hosted by Chicago-based incubator, MATTER. He said that in order to become successful, medical device makers, health information technology firms, healthcare innovators and physicians must work hand in hand.

The problem may not stem from intentionally “excluding” doctors, but the high cost in involving them in research and development. Hiring expert medical practitioners as part of the research and development or testing team would cost companies a lot of money, and the doctors, for their part, would not spend hours away from their practice without being compensated for it.

“Leaving end-users (physicians) out of the product development process leads to unanticipated problems such as unintuitive and frustrating workflow[s]”

Fierce Health Care also interviewed Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chairman Bernard Tyson. He revealed that “clinicians who are reluctant to give up their personal relationships with patients are often skeptical of digital health solutions that could interfere with those interactions”. He added that “efforts to integrate digital solutions have been ‘extremely difficult’ because the system had to account for any workflow changes that might impact the physician-patient relationship”.

Gadgets and gizmos are improving the delivery of healthcare and improving the lives of millions of patients every day. Smart and wearable technology have paved the way for immediate and more effective monitoring of patients’ systems and vital signs – wherever they may be. Seniors and the elderly, for example, are transitioning to digital healthcare products with a lot more ease than expected.

Imagine how bold an impact this would make if these new developments enjoyed the full support and endorsement of the medical industry.

“The tech community must be willing to engage early and to listen. And we physicians must be willing to meet the developmental challenges and share,” Dr. Stock’s letter concluded.