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Nutrition Informatics Blog

Sizing up Olympic Feats –Technology vs. Human

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Watching the Summer Olympics this past week has prompted an odd mix of emotions—from the awe of technology that can capture a hundredth of a second difference (under water at that) in swimmers to the disbelief of bad form in badminton players.  Events in London brought to mind the conversation we so often hear on “technology” being blamed for dumbing down the human decision making. My take on both health care and the Olympics is the same.  The answer is not in how much sophisticated technology or training we might have access to.  It is how we use what we have at our disposal. 

Along the same lines, opinions vary on the usefulness of “clinical decision support” within electronic health records.  Some warn that allowing a computer to make our decisions for us will prompt a brain drain of necessary abilities to diagnose.  Is that really the problem?  Does having access to anytime, all-the-time, 24/7 search options on the web decrease our ability to remember?  Hardly.  It has to do with keeping the goal in sight, taking criticism with some thought but not personally and completing the task at hand—while allowing no compromise on integrity.  While there are a multitude of constraints which mold our actions and uphold responsibility (after all, the badminton players were disqualified for their behavior)—it should come down to doing what is right. Too “Goody Two Shoes”?  Maybe—but perspective becomes more important as challenges and distractions occur.  In short, adoption of technology in health care is difficult—but success is in sight.  We all need to see that perseverance pays off.

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