Young physicians will become the champions of technology

“Generation C” has recently been defined by Nielsen as adults between 18 and 34 years old, who are entrenched in digital technologies.

They are indeed the connected generation and use technology by choice in all facets of life. It is part of their fabric.  Those entering the field of medicine would logically desire and expect to carry that over to their professional lives.  However, there are multiple barriers to the continuity of this facet of their personal lives to their professional ones as they embark on what is perceived as an otherwise high-tech journey into the healthcare world.

What are found are  EHRs which are often not intuitive, high pressurized short patient visits involving complex medical issues and a system in which connectivity is an adversarial roadblock among commercial technology companies rather than an opportunity for better patient care. Young physicians are met with teachers and mentors experiencing burnout (it is estimated that 75% of all physicians today experience burnout) and bitterness fueled by regulatory pressures and the resulting decreased face time with patients.

The healthcare system itself has not yet embraced social media, medical apps, remote patient monitoring, telehealth, or informatics as significant tools.  IT (EHRs) has been adopted primarily because of mandates and financial incentives, not due to an inherent appreciation for the technology itself, yet surveys show that younger physicians adopt EHRs at a greater rate than older physicians.

Young physicians will spearhead the use of mHealth technologies for a few reasons.  The BYOD (bring your own device) to the healthcare workplace with use of these devices is greater among young physicians.   They are more engaged in social media than older physicians. Mobile health technologies are discussed more in social and online media (utilized more by younger physicians) than mainstream media. In a recent survey by Jackson and Coker of Physicians in the UK, younger ones (graduating medical school in 2000 and later) were almost 50% more likely to appreciate the value of medical apps than older ones (graduating between 1960 and 1985).

Social media represent a vast opportunity for physicians to adopt mHealth technologies.  Most physicians use social media for personal use, but professional use has lagged behind. This is in part due to physicians being unaware of the positive aspects of social media of as well as hesitancy because of potential pitfalls.  The AMA has recently established and published professional guidelines in the use of social media.

Social media is a place where mHealth technologies are a hot topic and therefore more prone to be seen, reviewed, and appreciated by younger physicians.  While medicine changes slowly with regards to adoption of new treatments and technology, younger physicians today are taking more initiative in affecting positive changes in the arena.  I look forward to having them become champions of technology which will be more efficient and less complex tools to engage, diagnose, and treat their patients.

David Lee Scher is a former cardiologist and a consultant at DLS Healthcare Consulting, LLC.  He blogs at his self-titled site, David Lee Scher, MD.

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  • SiMBa37

    As one of these “younger physicians” I can heartily say that is increadibly frustrating to start a career in a field that is fairly resistant to technological change. I am forced at work to use archaic computer systems often based in a 12 year old OS (Windows XP) with terrible UI’s as well as being dependent on technology from the 1970′s ( the fax).

    At home I am constantly synced and connected with my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It seems health IT directors in hospitals are so out of touch with our reality ( as young MD’s) that we will be left behind as other industries surge ahead of us.

    • southerndoc1

      “At home I am constantly synced and connected with my iPhone, iPad, and Mac.”

       As are most older physicians. The difference is that, when we point out the exact same problems with health IT, we’re called Luddites.

      As with everything in modern medicine, if you want to understand the problem, follow the money.

    • Margalit Gur-Arie

      “we will be left behind as other industries surge ahead of us”

      I’m not sure this is the case, in spite of all the noise (hype). How many attorneys use iPhone and iPad at work? How many bankers and financial sector workers do that? Same for retail industry and pretty much any other industry, including those industries who manufacture these and similar technologies.

      These are consumer devices. At work, most everybody uses that “old” Windows enterprise software. You should ask your banking associate for a peek at her software next time you go to the bank.

  • arnold

    All well and good, but will they be champions of humanity?

    • drsharryn

      They will! They are just as committed as us wise owls ( possibly the C- (minus) Generation!
      They do though need to make sure they balance real interactions & online interactions – they are often quite affected by lack of simple gestures & cues ( while generation C

  • Renter

    Great point arnold. Technology can only do so much. It is up to people to interact and make the best decisions for people.

  • MattJS

    While younger physicians are more likely to adopt technology, the question become whether it is a step in the right direction. Medical platform like  MDLiveCare are providing a digital environment for doctors and patients to interact in real time and at any time. The problem is that doctors don’t necessarily have the patient’s and patient’s family’s complete medical history to properly diagnose the patient. Also, there’s something to be said for physical interaction between doctor and patient in diagnosis and in forming a personal relationship so the patient trusts their doctor..

  • MattJS

    I totally agree with you Renter although I do think technology has a place in moving us forward. 

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