27th October 2009 / Tom Quarry
The health care industry has come on leaps and bounds of the past few years with the implementation of kiosks and hi-tech systems to improve the efficiency and quality of service the health system provides.
Doctor's surgeries have installed touch screen kiosks to reduce the waiting time at the reception desk so staff can concentrate on other tasks in and around the surgery.
And in Boston an electronic 'doctor kiosk' is under development at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to improve the way the health care system works in America.
The self service kiosk promises to increase efficiency both inside and outside the physician office setting by gathering basic information from patients, such as the patients medical history, weight, pulse, blood pressure, and blood tests for glucose and cholesterol, and directing that information to a physician prior to an office visit.
It will also be able to function as a virtual health concierge for managing chronic illness, prompting the patient to answer a series of important health questions such as 'did you take your meds today.'
The whole process of investing money into health care technology is to increase the efficiency of the health care system and the patient health care process.
Many patients, however fret about the lack of doctor-patient time they will receive if a lot of their time in doctor's surgeries and hospitals is spent in front of a screen.
One of the consistent problems with the continuity of care is the lack of resources and time that doctors spend with their patients after being diagnosed.
So although kiosks may ease the weight off staff when it comes to the mundane tasks of obtaining information and filing data, the care of patients should not be replaced by kiosk systems unless they receive offer better after care than what they have now.
Kiosks in the healthcare industry must make patients feel more connected to their health information-not less so. If patients feel that the increase of technology replaces their time with their GP rather than supplementing it, they will most likely reject it outright.
Yet these kiosks are designed to reduce the amount of paperwork a GP has to go through allowing them to be more efficient with their patient and spend more time talking than writing notes.
Nurses are there to assist the doctor and many often take up the mundane tasks the doctor does not have the time to fulfill.
However nurses are often overburdened with a whole host of work and their valuable skills are not used enough. They are trained in the medical profession and spend most of their time doing paperwork, which could be easily sorted with the help of a kiosk.
The kiosk can help collect patient data and allow the nurse to assist the doctor in anyway possible so the patient feels fully catered for and looked after while in their local surgery.
For a kiosk to work in the health care industry, it needs to do the job intended and try and not take over the initial job of doctors and nurses, and instead assist them in doing their job with ease and efficiency.