Three useful products of 2004: 1. A patient spends more time with nurses than with doctors, but so far, nurses needs have been neglected. A few products aimed specifically at this market were launched this year. 2. The most useful devices will not provide static information in emergency rooms, but will update information about patients with chronic conditions or older people who are at risk of falling or wandering.3.The use of RFID technology to track drugs should greatly decrease counterfeiting. Two products likely to be useless or worse: 1. RFID tracking on products and equipment is one thing. But such devices inserted in people, even if emergency rooms have the relevant technology, are likely to provide outdated, unreliable information. To get useful, static information to doctors, Medicalert bracelets or smartcards are a better bet. To read more about the debate on medical RFID tagging, click here. 2. Engineers often dont like to deal with mundane tasks such as making interfaces pretty, but neglecting such details can be deadly. In September, the recall of a software card for a Medtronic drug pump did not clearly label fields when doctors entered dosing schedules. When clinicians mistakenly entered dosing intervals in the minutes instead of hours field, some patents got drug overdoses, two of which were fatal. Brailer is determined that health IT not become a reality only for the "haves." He wants rural and poor doctors to have EHRs, too. That laudable goal ignores a harsher reality. Health care itself is already a service for the "haves." This points to something more devious than any specific product: the notion of health IT itself. With all of its potential, its proponents sometimes forget that it is not an end in itself, but a means toward better health care. Clinicians and policy makers must not let enthusiasm for health IT distract from the more mundane, and complex, problem of health care access. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.
Click here to read about the focus on elder health.