Is our health system ready for digital health today? Exploring the way forward

Asking “Is our society ready to go digital?” may seem absurd considering that digital technologies are core to almost every aspect of our daily lives. Yet, asking “Is our health system ready for digital health?” is not farfetched, reflecting the relative lack of digital uptake in health care delivery today. We must prepare to integrate digital health into mainstream health care.

On 1 November 2019, a panel at the Technologies in Emergency Care Vancouver Conference (TEC Vancouver) discussed how to prepare our health workforce for digital innovations. Fifty leaders representing health, government, private sector, patients, and academia tackled the problem. We highlight some take-home messages from the discussion here.

We need to stop making things hoping they get used. Without guidance from health leaders and front-line clinicians, private sector solutions can miss the mark. Research, education, and knowledge translation are vital for scalability and positive societal impact of technology solutions. Multisectoral collaboration is essential to address gaps and choose digital health solutions wisely.

In the digital age, health professionals are more than knowledge purveyors; they are interpreters of information. Let’s use this opportunity to build relationships with our patients and not sacrifice the humanity in health care in favor of medical technocracy. Health professional training must emphasize digital health and how to use it to build relationships with patients. Patients and family caregivers need to bring their lived experience to all aspects of digital health transformation.

The Hippocratic Oath exhorts, “Do no harm.” Disruptive innovations can bring positive outcomes, but they can also introduce unforeseen harm. How do we take calculated risks without inhibiting progress? When do we choose evolution and when do we choose revolution to address persistent problems through disruption? We must ask ourselves: Can we be more nimble and less risk adverse? How do we open the door to culture change in health care? What’s stopping us?

TEC Vancouver was organized by the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine Digital Emergency Medicine Unit and Vancouver General Hospital Emergency Department in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation. The conference explored how innovative technologies influence health care delivery today and emerging trends that can shape the future of health care. We welcome readers to join us in the conversation in Vancouver on 7 November 2020 for the second TEC Vancouver conference.
—Kendall Ho, MD
Professor, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine
Lead of Digital Emergency Medicine Unit
Co-chair, TEC Vancouver Conference
—Helen Novak Lauscher, MD
Associate Lead of Digital Emergency Medicine Unit, UBC Department of Emergency Medicine
—Chad Kim Sing, MD
Associate Vice President of Medicine, Quality and Safety at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority 
Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine 
Co-chair, TEC Vancouver Conference
—Maryam Matean, MPH
Research Portfolio Coordinator at UBC Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Digital Emergency Medicine Unit

Kendall Ho, MD, FRCPC, Helen Novak Lauscher, PhD, Chad Kim Sing, MD, Maryam Matean, MPH. Is our health system ready for digital health today? Exploring the way forward. BCMJ, Vol. 62, No. 4, May, 2020, Page(s) 128,140 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

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