Here at SMS, we have been critical of Washington for failing to fully grasp all the opportunities that computers, social networks, and even games have put before us. How much creativity and ingenuity is waiting to be harnessed?
Today, we can only get glimpses of what is possible. One such glimpse comes from SAP Software, which has created Idea Place, to encourage info-sharing on software ideas and applications. Some of them concern medicine.
In this video, we see two SAP employees, Tobias Queck and Vandana Deep, talking through a SAP product called Paper UI. It's a digital pen, which records handwriting information as it is being written. So the care-provider writes the information on a regular piece of paper, and the information, stored in the pen, can be docked and sync-ed into the overall network.
No doubt there will soon enough be a wireless version of this digital pen, so that the information goes into the network in real time, but no need to get ahead of ourselves. In the meantime, we might pause to consider the fact that we don't yet know which "paradigm" of electronic health records (EHR) will prevail. In recent years, we have presumed that some sort of tablet--most notably, perhaps, an iPhone or an iPad--will be the dominant platform.
But one can make a case that it should be the pen/stylus, because, let's face it, plain old dead-tree paper has advantages. It never runs out of battery life, it's easy to move around, it survives spills and drops, and so on. And yet of course, we want all the data to be captured, and backed up--that's what the pen is for. The grand synthesis of EHR is yet to be seen, although, of course, there may never be a grand synthesis.
Interestingly enough, SAP-ers Queck and Deep were pitching the product at a trade show, DKOM 2010, held in San Francisco earlier this year, and they were in some sort of race with the clock the clock. As in, they had, it appears, six-and-a-half minutes to make their pitch, before a bell went off. One could not gain a sense, from the video, as to what the carrots or sticks might be, and it all seemed good-natured in any case. Which is to say, game-like elements have penetrated--suffused is probably a more accurate verb--not only the computer culture, but also the computer-medicine culture. I was also struck by the use of the word "imagineering," which I think was coined by Walt Disney, to describe the engineering used at Disneyland and the other Disney theme parks.
Nothing wrong with that. On Friday, I published a long piece for Steve Clemons' blog, The Washington Note, arguing that vast reserves of creativity and ingenuity were not being tapped for the cause of healthcare, and the biggest of those untapped reserves was the gamer culture.