Doctors have a particular skill set that is really valuable in the tech world. 3 areas they can contribute are
- Strategic/initial planning
- Ongoing development
1. Strategic/initial planning
Developing a technical solution requires insight into what is currently happening. Doctors as frontline staff have information about how healthcare is organised/delivered as well as what technology is currently used and how effective it is.
Once the current situation is established doctors can also help in developing new solutions. Years of training gives them knowledge of the human body and medical conditions. Using this knowledge/experience they can give keen insights as to what would be successful. As a doctor I have rarely used software/technology which seemed genuinely intuitive and easy to use – most are tolerable but could so easily be improved with some changes.
Once a product has been produced the next step is to get buy-in from users. In health, many of these users will be doctors who can be hard to engage with. Doctors tend to relate more easily to a fellow doctor. In my consulting role, I have found getting a meeting with a key individual or being invited to a clinical meeting is much easier than for my non-clinical colleagues.
Doctors also know the language of clinicians and can relate concepts so as to garner their interest. They can also answer clinical questions more easily and provide credibility to a project.
3. Ongoing development
Once a product has been created or if an existing product needs development doctors can again be key. By their own use of a product or the ability to talk and get honest feedback from those that do they can help design the development roadmap. Sometimes an apparent minor development can transform how software is used which may not occur to a software developer (e.g., enabling copy in a clinical system which allows the NHS number to be used to search in another system, using a clinicians NHS smart card as the form of login authentication rather than memorising another username & password, creating user-defined keyboard shortcuts for regular actions). Having a doctor involved at this stage can save time and money on focusing on the wrong areas.
Getting doctors involved is really beneficial to the success for a technological solution. I have been involved with a number of companies/organisations where this obviously hasn’t occurred. The product while good could have been so much better and more successful if this clinical input was more established.