Today while attending CES to talk about AI in healthcare, I learned that CES is the first health tech conference to offer Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit for its clinician attendees. This is huge news and is an important step in reconciling the clinician and technical communities.
A central problem in healthcare technology is that there are two or more fundamentally different technology paces that matter. One is the pace of the general technology industry which runs at breakneck speed. The consumer tech portion of this industry is the fastest component here. CES ends up being a metronome for this part of the tech industry. What happened at last years CES is old news. The only thing that matters is this year’s tech.
Contrast this with the fastest sprinter in the clinical space — medical devices, which has a new generation of products about every five years. That MRI machine you just got scanned by could easily be 10 years old. This is fast compared to advances in surgery or medications, which can easily take decades to develop and decades to disseminate enough to see impacts at scale.
This is not a complaint. There are good reasons why these industries work on different time scales. We need to be careful when the underlying scientific process involves people. We tolerate faults in our phones that we cannot afford in our ICU monitors.
While the pace in change should be different, that difference is dangerous. Especially when consumer devices create cybersecurity risks. This was a major issue highlighted in the cybersecurity report to Congress.
Having CME credit at a health tech conference seems like a small thing, but in reality, it is an initial step at reconciling these two paces of change. Essentially, this is an acknowledgment that a physician who studies the changes coming in consumer technology is spending her time in a manner that has similar value as brushing up on new medications or on motivational interviewing techniques.
Over time this will mean greater participation of physicians in the health tech discussion. It may take time for the clinician community to pay attention to this change. During this time I can only hope this innovation from CES will become industry standard.