Most physicians have long enjoyed the benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. As health systems focused on ensuring doctors had access to state-of-the-art health IT to monitor their patients when they couldn’t be at the bedside, the quality of tools and pace of adoption for nursing solutions did not keep up. In some situations, nurses received bulky phones that could only be used within the walls of the hospital, while physicians needed to download specific apps on their own devices to receive calls from the nurses’ devices. Technical difficulties were frequent. In other situations, health systems tried rolling out solutions to nurses that had been used successfully by physicians. Unfortunately, those solutions were not always conducive to nurses’ workflow.
According to IBM, there are 2.5 exabytes of data created every day, and most of it is unstructured. Imagine receiving all the words ever spoken by human beings on your doorstep each and every day. Now, imagine consuming that, making sense of it and trying to keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of data creation each day.
As a physician, I experienced firsthand the angst that comes with trying to keep up with even a very specialized scope of expertise. Thanks to the overwhelming quantity of peer-reviewed publications and practice guideline updates that only increase each year, we are long past the time when a clinician could possibly keep up with all the advancements in their own practice area, let alone those of adjacent areas of medicine or the latest public health concerns on a global scale.
Making quick decisions is important when it comes to cardiology patients – particularly when patient conditions unexpectedly change in the ER or overnight when access to a cardiologist is more limited. Since quality care does not end when the physician leaves the bedside, having the latest and most relevant data easily accessible no matter where the cardiologist is can be critical.
In recent years, cardiologists have relied on faxed or texted pictures of an ECG to help them make decisions, or even other staff members’ verbal descriptions of what they see on the readout. But the quality of this information is inadequate. By the time a fax is sent, it’s outdated. Zooming capabilities for texted images can only do so much. And – though we credit all of our staff for their knowledge – cardiology is a specialty and these doctors may see something on an ECG that might be missed in a verbal update.