Does Automation sacrifice Patient Empowerment?

Brian Dolan at Mobihealth discusses one of the problems that i notice many people have when they try and imagine how a connected health experience should work. Simply put many healthcare professionals, like Rajiv Mehta in this article, feel that automation removes the patient from the care process.

In my opinion saying patients don’t want automation is as superficial as saying we should all prefer to use printed textbooks instead of google/wikipedia – which you could argue automate the process of learning.

To me it very simply comes down to the user experience because whilst patients want automation the developers of care solutions need to be sure they deliver it with a better user interface (a subject that i gave a couple of talks about at recent Apple iPhone Developer Days here in Ireland).

Personally i find you can learn a lot from the UI’s that have been developed by the automotive industry to start imagining how future health dashboards might look for example:

> The BMW dash display which automatically tests itself, alerts us to things when they’re going wrong, is reassuringly invisible when things are going right and rewards the driver for better driving (via servicing cost savings).

BMW instrument cluster

> The BMW Assist SOS button is very basic yet automates several processes by connecting the engine management system, GPS and GSM telephone to enable it to identify the vehicle, registered driver, location, provide turn by turn directions, vehicle diagnostics, airbag deployment notification, theft recovery and towing or flat tyre repair:

BMW Assist

> The Mercedes Benz automatic oil level control that spares the driver having to use the dipstick to check the oil level. Again a lovely clean UI. Not completely automated just yet but park the car on level ground press the button and wait as it runs the test.

engine oil level test

Lessons from the implementation of these automations in the motoring industry also provide us with the best way to test the success of a Connected Health UI and it’s quite simple: customers will resist if you try to take it away. Whilst i’m sure there are a few customers who felt that they liked to get up early once a week to give their oil level a good dipping… after experiencing automation with a successful UI the vast majority would never want to go back to the days when they had to open the bonnet and check the oil level with a rag. This should be what we’re trying to achieve in the automation of healthcare… after all don’t we all agree patients have got better things to be doing with their time/energy.

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5 Responses to Does Automation sacrifice Patient Empowerment?

  1. Pingback: Twitted by Bart

  2. drtombibey says:

    You might enjoy my post today.

  3. 3gdoctor says:

    Thanks for your contact Dr Bibey,

    What makes you think i’d enjoy reading about how the bureaucrats at the Medical Board want you to wear a name tag?

    Keep in touch – i’d love to jam on the mandolin with you sometime!



  4. Pingback: Allan Cockell, CEO, T+ Medical Presentation « 3G Doctor Blog

  5. Pingback: FireText Fires the M2M mHealth starting gun! « mHealth Insight: the blog of 3G Doctor

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