I am not a trekkie, really – I am not. I can’t even remember watching a whole Star Trek episode. But I do know a few of the phrases like ‘to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has been before…’ and what not – is that how it goes? All the trekkies must be getting ready to crucify me at this point…

But anyway – I liken the move towards integrating more technology into health care systems to a Star Trek voyage because in some ways, it is an adventure. And I am excited about it. And yes I am a geek for being excited about it:-)

In a lot of ways this move towards intergrating technology is new and unknown territory. Thus there has been calls for abandoning it all together. Why? well because it’s new and therefore scary (to some). And also because it introduces new risks to both clinicians and patients. These risks include risk of:

  • misinformation through outdated information
  • information being misinterpreted or otherwise
  • loss of control of content through hacking/malware
  • litigation as a result of unanswered online queries by patients to clinicians
  • misuse of platform e.g. posting of malicious content
  • Confidentiality breaches

On the other hand, the results from countries that have adopted innovative use of the internet and mobile technology in health care are promising. Denmark,for example, has been using e-health e.g. patient e-records etc since 1992. Denmark’s e-health portal, which today links labs, pharmacies, doctors, patients, hospitals and local municipalities country-wide, is being studied by the USA and alike with a hope of replicating it’s success. I am sure the above highlighted risks are part and parcel of these studies.

Meanwhile, my cautious enthusiasm for the internet as an interactive platform for health promotion remains and I continue to keep my ears and eyes open on any advances in the field.