Are American Hospitals Suffering From Technolust?

In Alexandria, VA, TC Williams High School administrators thought they'd increase staff satisfaction by installing all the latest gadgets, including mobile pointers that allow them to change computer views without wandering back by the desk to click a mouse.

No such luck.

Teachers are concerned a "technolust" and DTA (desire to acquire) philosophy is overshadowing the larger mission of the school. Some are concerned machines are dehumanizing the 'craft' of teaching.

Patrick Welsh, a TC Williams teacher (for 30 years) and author of the Washington Post piece, defines technolust as:

"a disorder affecting publicity-obsessed school administrators nationwide that manifests itself in an insatiable need to acquire the latest, fastest, most exotic computer gadgets, whether teachers and students need them or want them."

Sound familiar?

Are American hospitals suffering from technolust?

Are we purchasing the latest 45689 slice scanners whether doctors and consumers need them or want them? Are we too adopting technology just for the sake of technology?

Welsh says "Principals and other administrators may live off headlines, but teachers live off whether their students learn."

Hospitals live off whether patients recover, not headlines.

It's great when hospital administrators implement improvements and initiatives that help patients recover, but for god's sake - give us the quantitative data already.

Hospitals have gotten very, very good at sharing qualitative patient profiles (personal success stories) as proof that the latest tech initiative was worth the investment - for at least one person.

But what's the institutional ROI? Why is that tech investment important for me as a prospective patient? If you purchase, for instance, 50 Nintendo Wii's for the rehabilitation medicine department, I want to see how "Wiihab" is improving outcomes for stroke, ortho and trauma patients.

As hospitals begin to publish pricing and quality data, this type of material should be included.

After all, if I'm comparing prices on a TKR and your price is significantly higher, I want to see if corresponding tech purchases may be worth the investment on my part.

Of course, this type of extended transparency surrounding tech purchases may provide disincentives for hospitals to offer care outside 'centers of excellence.'

If an administration is pouring money into treatment tech for cancers but I need a state of the art burn center, information about tech purchases and how they affect the bottom line may eventually factor into my decision to select your facility for care - or not.

Bottom line: If you buy the hottest machine, that's not news. If you buy the hottest machine and it immediately improves treatment outcomes for 20% of patients with a specific diagnosis, that's news. Especially if I have the same diagnosis.

Tech for the sake of tech in hospitals shouldn't make headlines. Tech for the sake of healing should.

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