Time for technology that delivers health benefits!
Time for technology that delivers health benefits!

Gabrielle Speijer, MD

Cisco Live, 05/2022

Time for technology that delivers health benefits!

‘If I become a doctor, I can provide the best care for someone and focus on improving healthcare and health.’ That was my motivation to become a doctor years ago when I was in high school. I witnessed firsthand how a patient who had been under the care of her doctor for years was prescribed large pills, despite having a clear swallowing problem. I wondered how everyone involved could work so separately and whether a pharmaceutical company realized that these medicines were being flushed down the toilet by the patient shortly after the doctor’s visit. I couldn’t understand how each person involved in this example could be so blind to the added value that each perspective could provide!

This event made a deep impression on me and formed my motivation to continue seeking improvement in the communication between doctors, patients, and pharmaceutical companies: essentially the entire healthcare chain! An improvement that leads to added value for all involved. My strong affinity for technology and its influence on people made it increasingly clear to me that technology could facilitate the improvement I was seeking.

On my journey, I gained a lot of experience, learned by studying, and secretly attending lectures from other fields that interested me. But perhaps what I learned most was from the valuable contacts with professors, fellow students, friends, and colleagues who sparked my curiosity and prompted me to new thoughts through their knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm.

My patients over the years have also been remarkable, from whom I have gained so much wisdom. In summary: caring for others, what you do as a doctor, has everything to do with mindset and focus, being consciously open to others! And technology can support you wonderfully in this.

Absolute must

Now, many years later, technology is no longer a nice-to-have for me but an absolute must! I became more and more amazed at how we apply technology in clinical practice and what is actually possible. Unfortunately, that gap seems to be growing, and it does not help me and my colleagues to fulfill the Hippocratic Oath when providing care. Technology can actually ensure that we have a complete picture of a person’s health.

Unfortunately, clinical practice has been purely digitalized, from paper to PDF and folder systems. While all this health information is provided with care by me, my colleagues, and the patient, it is still not available in the right place: it still costs us overtime to gather the necessary information. And unfortunately, the focus of the healthcare chain is not directed towards the value of data.

Valuable communication

Valuable communication arises from a confidential connection between doctor and patient, as I wrote in my previous column. Knowing what each other means and what it’s all about. How you both stand in it. The confidential connection in which mutual expectations and experiences are shared between the patient (citizen) and doctor (health professional). For the most part, this involves listening very carefully and frequently checking whether what you think you understand is really what is meant.

This information is also the basis for what we call data today. And this is also immediately the basis of data curation: doctor and patient agree on the health image it describes. A next step is that more patients and doctors agree on that shared interpretation.

Whose data is it?

The second step in data curation is to immediately record who the information belongs to, who added their knowledge to it (both the doctor and patient), and what permission was given by both. Data and information are archived so that they can be reused.

Technology that either does or does not meet our criteria – patient, citizen in general, and healthcare professional – for truly contributing to health is selected. If it is potentially dangerous or not useful for public health, we easily pull the plug: after all, it concerns the data of the doctor and patient together.

About the author

Gabriëlle Speijer is a Radiation Oncologist at the Haga Hospital, founder of the healthcare innovation company CatalyzIT, HIMSS Future50 International HealthIT leader and member of the ICT&health editorial board.