Where Are You On the Innovation Maturity Curve?
I love data and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As I look at the iPad, I see the potential for having infinite amounts of data at my fingertips. The question is, will this innovation speed me up or slow me down? As we all know, having to wade through a myriad screens just to find one piece of information just makes us less efficient. We shouldn’t reject these technological innovations, but we should step back and view them for what they are – one blip in the broader progression of medical development. And, when necessary, we need to be willing to step away from the new toys and be satisfied  optimizing the technology that we already have.

The Gartner Group ­– a technology research firm – coined the term “Hype Cycle” to describe the maturation process of new technologies. When any new product comes out, enormous amounts of excitement about the potential of the new technology is generated. As people learn more about the product and its limitations, the excitement wanes. If a technology lasts, it continues to get optimized and become genuinely useful for the end user. This last step is where we can use technology to really improve practice, and it’s where we need to focus more of our energy.

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The problem with our current environment is that so little time is allowed for established technology to reach this “plateau of productivity.” Instead, we quickly lose patience, opting for the newer, shinier model. We need to allocate time to truly test and optimize products before we jump on the upgrade.

Just as when we are about to perform an invasive procedure, we need to take a team pause on our technology:
-Is this the right technology and location for this technology?
-Have we indicated specifically where we best should use this technology?
-Has everyone on your team confirmed how we should be using this technology before it is used further?

Should you decide to go ahead with a new technology in you ED, be reasonable. Set realistic expectations for what it can and can’t do, and plan ahead for how you will work with it. What is your ultimate goal for this product, and how long is an acceptable time frame to meet that goal? Once these questions are answered, then a strategic plan can be created to move forward.

The other aspect to a good transition is pacing. The more tech savvy crowd may feel that the changes are not happening fast enough, while users at the opposite end of the spectrum may feel overwhelmed. The key is to find the right pace in between with a clear and consistent communication strategy.

Will I be running out to get an iPad for my ED? Not yet. I’m waiting first for that capital budget request to go through for the voice recognition software and biometric login consoles. In the meantime, I’ll try to optimize my use of the bedside workstations we installed two years ago.

Dan Handel is the Director of Clinical Operations for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.




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