Old school millennial

April 26, 2017
Janette Wider,

Being a millennial, you may assume that I am all about advanced technology. The truth is … I’m not. I can’t even bring myself to use Siri because I feel ridiculous talking to my phone when there isn’t someone on the other end of the line. I even wrote this article on a piece of notebook paper before I typed it. I’m not saying I’m technologically challenged; I changed my hard drive on my laptop recently, answer computer related questions for my family, video chat with friends from my hometown, and Instagram photos of my adventures. I’m not totally living in the dark. I just know I’ll never be one of those people who get an RFID tag implanted into my hand to make my life easier for making payments and opening doors—I like to do some things the old fashioned way (like use my debit card or swipe a badge to enter a building).

Sometimes I feel like technology is advancing too quickly in our society. But in the healthcare industry, is there such a thing? There are new technologies being created every day that are truly changing people’s lives, although some of the technology feels like the stuff of science fiction.

This month we covered Top Tech Products, one of which is Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface, Neuralink. Doctors aren’t using neural lace (an ultrathin mesh that can be implanted in the skull, forming a collection of electrodes capable of monitoring brain function) on patients right now, but soon they will be. But how could I complain that it’s too fast? The research says that neural lace could treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and could potentially help people with missing limbs use “connected” artificial body parts unassisted, using only brain power. This is an amazing advancement that can potentially help countless amounts of people around the world.

With the American Telemedicine Association Telehealth 2.0 conference on my mind, it got me thinking about the telehealth advancements that have been made recently as well. I’ve never used any telehealth services—although they are offered to me through my insurance—because knowing my luck I’d use it and end up having to go into an office anyway. But this service is great for someone with children who doesn’t want to jump the gun if they don’t have to, like deciding whether or not to go to the ER at 3 A.M. for something that might be able to wait until the doctor’s office is open the next morning.

I think telehealth technology has made the best impact on rural areas that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive the same level of care. I read an article recently on Kaiser Health News titled “In Remote Idaho, A Tiny Facility Lights The Way For Stressed Rural Hospitals.” It was about an isolated town in Idaho that implemented telehealth services in its only hospital. The head pharmacist isn’t even onsite, instead he is about 80 miles away and checks work remotely. If patients want a consultation, they go into a room with a telephone and a link for a video call with the pharmacist. Not only is the pharmacy side bettered by telemedicine, the doctors can get guidance from specialists in trauma, emergency care, and burns. The article begins with an anecdote about a woman who got injured while trying to vaccinate a calf and got the kind of service that is generally expected from a much larger hospital. Again, these advancements could help countless amounts of people residing in rural areas.

Finally, I’d like to touch on wearables. I don’t have a Fitbit or any other wearable technology, and I probably never will—unless a doctor tells me that I have to. I have plenty of friends and colleagues that count their steps and post the information on social media. This isn’t really my style, but it works for those who want to be held accountable. I applaud those who take their health and exercise seriously, but maybe it’s the fashionista in me … I just can’t imagine wearing something that doesn’t coordinate with my outfit. Not to mention, recent studies show that the heart rate monitors in these devices are less than accurate.

So, it’s safe to say that regarding these new technologies, I’m on the fence. I have a love/hate relationship with it on a personal level but hope that improvements and advancements continue, especially in the healthcare field. Maybe one day I’ll join my millennial peers and get an RFID tag put in my hand. I know it would be beneficial if my electronic health records were on there in case I was in an accident. But right now, I’m happy with only integrating technology into a portion of my life.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your feedback at [email protected].

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