Jay Parkinson recently wrote a post responding to a question raised by Atul Gawande: Can technology be a change agent for health care? Jay’s answer focused on the generational tech divide in medicine today. One quote:
“Many of the most influential doctors practicing medicine today have an antagonistic relationship with computers. Change will only come in a massive way when the under-40 generation takes control.”
I tweeted his post, followed by a link to an essay I wrote about my grandmother, who grasped the potential of the Web immediately — at age 85 — and was a daily internet user until she died, more than a decade later. She is an example of someone who defied generational generalizations, to say the least.
Lots of people responded to my tweets, including:
— Dovetail Care (@DovetailCare) November 10, 2013
— davisliumd (@davisliumd) November 10, 2013
— Lauren Wiseman (@yzman) November 10, 2013
— Karen Price (@brookmanknight) November 11, 2013
— Linda Pourmassina,MD (@LindaP_MD) November 11, 2013
— Mary Verrilli (@mv) November 11, 2013
— Robert S. Miller, MD (@rsm2800) November 11, 2013
Let’s talk about this. My contribution will be data, in addition to the anecdote about my outlier grandmother.
Manhattan Research finds that tablets are “mainstream” among physicians in the U.S. but use of technology in medical settings varies widely across the globe. Note: Manhattan surveys nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and other clinicians but I couldn’t find a comparable set of studies with basic usage/adoption stats. If you have a link, please share it in the comments.
Looking at the Pew Research Center’s data on the U.S. population, we do see a generational divide when it comes to internet and gadget use, but it isn’t at the 40-year-old mark, as Jay suggests, and is often erased when looking only at college educated adults (which includes clinicians, of course).
Health care is a special case and I have sought to illuminate a fair question asked by busy clinicians: How do we know that social media is important to health care?
What other sources of data can we bring to this discussion? What other variables would you include when diagnosing our current health care system’s tech challenges? How would you answer the question: Can technology be a change agent for health care?