James M. Hotaling, MD, MS, and Steven A. Kaplan, MD, introduce their new Urology Times section "Tech Talk with Jim and Steve."
Medicine is at a crossroads where the convergence of genetics, machine learning, bioinformatics, robotics, and point-of-care diagnostics have the ability to significantly impact population health. This is happening at a time when health care costs currently consume 17% of the gross domestic product, a model that is likely not sustainable for the long term.
Further, health care faces a work force shortage, a particularly acute problem in urology. A culture of safety, quality, and minimizing waste is now in place, with countless articles bemoaning how patient safety metrics are less than ideal. Finally, physician burnout is at a record high, largely due to the shift to electronic medical records, emphasis on quantity versus quality, and the effort to have physicians record and measure nearly every metric possible in health care.
Despite this, we would contend that the future has never looked brighter for our specialty. Urology is now consistently one of the most competitive specialties, if not the most competitive, to match into. We feel that the interest in urology and the job satisfaction of urologists themselves has been largely driven by continued refinements in technology that have allowed paradigm shifts in how we care for patients.
While most urologists are aware of the technologies that directly impact daily patient care, such as new medications for advanced prostate cancer, many are not nearly as aware of the technologies that have the ability to broadly impact health care. Some of these are specific to urology but many are being deployed across many specialties. Given the demanding and all-consuming nature of a busy clinical practice, many of us-these authors included-do not always have the time to stay completely abreast of new developments that could impact or improve delivery of optimal urologic care.
We feel that the new “Tech Talk with Jim and Steve” section of Urology Times is particularly important given the opportunity for improving data acquisition and providing higher rates of quality, lower patient turnover, and ultimately better outcomes. All of the technologies presented in this section will have the potential to improve efficiency, optimize patient care, and improve doctor and patient satisfaction as well as preserve the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Each Tech Talk article will have a leader in the technology of interest outline both the current state of the art and the potential implications for practice. Further, we will strive to highlight clinically relevant and actionable technologies that are, or will be, broadly available.
We have chosen to devote the inaugural installment of Tech Talk to telemedicine because we believe that it has the potential to significantly improve physician access and patient satisfaction, and relieve some of the bottlenecks that currently limit delivery of urologic care. We have chosen Chad Ellimoottil, MD, MS, to highlight the potential impact of telemedicine. The University of Michigan, where he has headed up the development of the telemedicine initiative, has emerged as a leader in this technology. He outlines not only the status and potential scope of telemedicine but also provides insight for practicing urologists to consider the use of telemedicine visits in their own practice.
We look forward to serving as Tech Talk section editors and welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions at email@example.com.
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