A couple of years ago, I read a news article about an unusual kind of chess competition. This competition allowed teams of up to two competitors to use any chess computer software they chose in order to play against other teams of two with their own chess software. This may sound like an unusual competition, and it was, but the goal was interesting: to see which team of humans could best utilize technology to their advantage.
Most teams bought off-the-shelf software and just plugged their opponents’ moves into their chess program and then made the moves that their own program churned out. The winning team, however, actually developed their own software, leveraging machine learning and feeding their program the moves and results of thousands of games in order to “teach” it different strategies and moves. The really interesting part was that in some crucial situations this team actually made moves that went against their program’s suggested moves. They let the machine guide their overall strategy but were not afraid to make their own moves when they felt it was to their advantage. In the end, they walked away champions, with man-plus-machine being superior to just machine alone.
I see many parallels between this competition and the current adoption and usage of electronic medical records and other software that the digitization of healthcare is propelling. Whereas patient care, document creation, and information flows were once manual- and human-driven, now we are using computer software to manage many of these processes. Healthcare is not a chess match, and patients are not chess pieces to be moved about, but we are facing a new era where humans must now interact with computer software on a daily basis and use it help do everything from create a progress note to make a critical care decision.
There is a lot of friction created as “man” and “machine”come together in today’s healthcare environment. The challenges that most hospitals and healthcare organizations are facing is in building a winning strategy to allow their providers and staff to leverage technology and software to become more efficient and deliver better care. The key is in knowing where the limits of this new technology lie, as well as when and where humans need to “make their own moves” to come out ahead.
How is your healthcare organization allowing its personnel to “make their own moves” and where are the friction points where once manual processes are now merging with technology?
Jeremy Zasowski is the New Solutions Marketing Manager of 3M’s Emerging Business Team.