Research the future of medical education and you’ll see a very different story than what’s really happening today. While big-name institutions and industry associations publish papers about, solicit input to, and even host conferences on ways of improving medical education, medical practitioners are upping the urgency on progress they believe should be available now. “We can do this now,” they seem to be saying. “Why wait?”
But legal, ethical, and compliance issues add barriers – or at least uncertainty – between practitioners with content to share and the worldwide audience who wishes to see, and learn from, their experience. And nothing about today’s platforms is optimized for the type of content medical professionals would wish to share (let alone the experience that person would want to build around their content).
Still, sharing happens. You only have to look to YouTube and other public channels to get a sense of what medical professionals want. We’ll spare you by NOT embedding an actual video – but if you seek anything from simple suture tips to sneak previews of new device implantations to full-on hip replacement techniques, you can find what you’re seeking on public channels.
Video provides an obvious and extremely powerful way to share medical practices, yet there’s no obvious or protected place where practitioners can offer, find or even monetize their content. This is true whether the content is used for the general good even approved continuing education. That’s a problem many medical professionals would like to solve.
The gap goes beyond education. Tech innovation rises unstoppably across our lives, yet health care stands at a digital divide. As Dr. Cosima Gretton explained in her recent KQED Science op-ed:
“There’s a huge disparity in healthcare. The digital health hype is at an all time high. It seems like every day, I read a new article stipulating that technology is ‘revolutionizing healthcare.’
“But inside hospitals, the story is very different.”
SAP CEO Bill McDermott experienced that difference firsthand when he faced a medical emergency earlier this year. As his doctors worked to repair serious facial injuries (McDermott ultimately lost an eye to his accident), he saw the magnitude of the problem.
“There were digital files of MRIs, data from my surgery in the trauma unit and scans from the emergency response team that never went into the case file,” he told the NY Times. His experience catalyzed a new vision for SAP’s impact on data management in healthcare – and, ultimately, in patient care.
It’s no small challenge. Patients and doctors alike bemoan the realities of disjointed Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems. IT professionals warn of the complexity of change management and system integration. As other industries move forward in analyzing and sharing their important data, the one that arguably needs it most trudges along in an uncertain track.
What can be done? At least in one area – education – we see a way we can help. As we speak with medical professionals – surgeons, internists, psychologists, telemedicine innovators and others – we’re finding better answers. The ability to capture instructive content and share it in secure, safe, compliant ways isn’t an unattainable goal. Our vision points squarely to a way to help. Our platform will enable:
- Faster, more secure ways for medical professionals to share practices and techniques as they work with emerging technologies
- Easy “side by side” comparisons of highly-specialized procedures, even across distance
- Rapidly disseminating treatments or instruction to remote audiences in the event of an emergency (and even for everyday challenges)
- Reach to rural areas where access to deep medical information may be limited
Despite the obstacles doctors face sharing with their peers and communicating with their patients, Bill McDermott’s case – and countless others – validates that time-tested axiom, “where there’s a will there’s a way.” The world needs medical professionals to point their ingenuity toward solving life-changing – even life saving – problems. Navigating through technical barriers isn’t a good use of their time.
This thought from David Wilkinson, Professor and Head, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, in his “The Future of Medical Education: All About Being Connected,” sums it up for us:
“I cannot wait to see how technology will further transform our educational models. We are so far behind what some other disciplines and industries are doing. We need radical models for collaboration and the sharing of learning material. Why are hundreds of medical schools all around the world each developing the same e-learning materials?
“We have amazing hardware now in the form of tablet computers and increasingly fast mobile internet services. In the future, all the content that our curricula need will be widely available as rich multimedia in super-high definition.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.