How to avoid 'new-toy syndrome' when assessing new tech innovations

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David McSwain, MD, chief medical information officer of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, joined the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast" to talk about how he assesses what technology is worth investing in.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Editor's note: This excerpt was edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Question: When so many companies are trying to sell applications and software to health systems, how do you assess what's worth investing in?

Dr. David McSwain: I think in many ways it's about education. It's really undervalued and underleveraged in our healthcare system today. I'm not just talking about formal didactic education, I'm talking about digital literacy and the initial and ongoing training and support on the capabilities of the technology that you have in place or that you're putting in place. You really need to be incorporating digital literacy into multidisciplinary education. 

This is important because, in order to evaluate new technology, you must first understand the capabilities of the technology that you have. You have to understand what you, as an organization, are trying to achieve and what your gaps are. You must understand how to optimize the technology that you already have in place and gauge whether the technology actually performs the functions that you need. Can you fill these gaps through education and training, or is it a gap that you need to address by bringing in additional technology?

I think we often see the new-toy syndrome where you've got technology in place, but you see new technology that does something that you would like to see implemented in your practice. So you put your focus there, despite the fact that the technology you have in place may already be able to do that. Understanding what the capabilities and the limitations are and optimizing the technology that you have in place is the first step in moving toward bringing new innovations in. 

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