Five myths from a digital health workshop

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Here are my favourite (!) Myths inspired by every health informatics/digital health event I have ever been to.

Myth 1: You really need a rubber frog computer mouse/USB stick
First priority at the event is to visit the exhibition and to garner all the freebies. There’s always one exhibitor who’s gone the extra mile and is giving away the freebie that everybody wants. Question is, what will you do with afterwards? How long will it take you to lose it in the bottom of your handbag, or leave it in your hotel room?

Myth 2: You cannot get through more than an hour without coffee
Every workshop agenda becomes a series of coffee breaks punctuated by sessions of speakers. Do we really need that much coffee? Is this healthy? Are we trying to compensate for the quality of the sessions by keeping our audiences awake with artificial stimulants? The serious point here is our need to consider issues through root cause analysis and not just try to address symptoms, or address part issues which improve one issue at the expense of another.

Myth 3: The solution is the technology aka DigitalHealth
Technology doesn’t solve problems. Health isn’t digital. People solve problems, and technology can help if done properly. Technology can facilitate better ways of working, but it is those better ways of working that deliver clinical and economic benefits, not the technology per se.

Myth 4: The problem is the technology
Just as the technology isn’t the solution per se, neither is it the problem per se. People are the solution and the problem. Technology may provide opportunities for people to work smarter, but they need to take those opportunities. That requires people to change, and people are often unenthusiastic about change: it requires them to confront the reality that they are not perfect already.
In the context of that change, it’s worth noting that greater use of technology both increases the level of risk and gives you better tools to manage that risk. The consequence is that it places greater responsibility on professionals aka people to use the tools available to manage the risks.

Myth 5: Faxes are a really neat idea
To paraphrase the late great Douglas Adams, there are still people who are “so amazingly primitive that they still think fax machines are a pretty neat idea”. Why is this not so? Ask the Information Commissioner.

And now a bonus myth!
Myth 6: Everything changes so fast.
This is a reboot of a blog from 2015. The technology has changed but as the technology is not the problem or the solution, guess what – the REAL challenges are still remarkably similar!


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