Jonathan Lindner, MD, FACC, FASE President Oregon Health & Science University Technology, while important in advancing the care of our patients, can be a double-edge sword. The obvious example is the electronic health record (EHR). Without a doubt, the EHR has: • centralized complex medical records, • improved the efficacy and speed of communication, and • provided a tool for avoiding errors and harmful drug interactions. Yet, the EHR has forced healthcare workers to spend less time on face-to-face patient care and more time transcribing, billing, and inputting data. It is no wonder that many recent publications have linked use of the EHR with provider dissatisfaction and burnout. In echocardiography, the story is pretty much the same. We have benefited from centralized PACS systems that are accessible from remote monitors located not only in the echo lab but in the office, clinic, wards, and even home. We have benefited from new echo technologies that have revolutionized care such as 3D imaging for guiding percutaneous interventions in real-time; and the use of contrast to better visualize cardiac structure and function. New technology has also made it easier, through automation, to perform quantitative echo in terms of ventricular function, valve disease, and chamber size. This innovation has helped workflow for sonographers and has improved quality. At the same time, it has introduced new sources of error and has increased the “information load” which sometimes has the unintended consequence of forcing the interpreter to deal with discrepant data. New technology always looks shiny and exciting on the surface, but there are always growing pains that are associated with its implementation. In the coming years, I would love to see less attention to the shiny new button, and more attention to how technology can help solve the major problem of sonographer work-related injuries. The time to address this issue has come.
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Technology has created a world without borders. In what ways has technology changed your practice in the past year?