“Generation C” has recently been defined by Nielsen as adults between 18 and 34 years old, who are entrenched in digital technologies. They are indeed the Connected Generation and use technology by choice in all facets of life. It is part of their fabric. Those entering the field of medicine would logically desire and expect to carry that over to their professional lives. However, there are multiple barriers to the continuity of this facet of their personal lives to their professional ones as they embark on what is perceived as an otherwise high-tech journey into the healthcare world. What are found are EHRs which are often not intuitive, high pressurized short patient visits involving complex medical issues and a system in which connectivity is an adversarial roadblock among commercial technology companies rather than an opportunity for better patient care. Young physicians are met with teachers and mentors experiencing burnout (it is estimated that 75% of all physicians today experience burnout) and bitterness fueled by regulatory pressures and the resulting decreased face time with patients. The healthcare system itself has not yet embraced social media, medical apps, remote patient monitoring, telehealth, or informatics as significant tools. IT (EHRs) has been adopted primarily because of mandates and financial incentives, not due to an inherent appreciation for the technology itself, yet surveys show that younger physicians adopt EHRs at a greater rate than older physicians.
Young physicians will spearhead the use of mHealth technologies for a few reasons. The BYOD (bring your own device) to the healthcare workplace with use of these devices is greater among young physicians. They are more engaged in social media than older physicians. Mobile health technologies are discussed more in social and online media (utilized more by younger physicians) than mainstream media. In a recent survey by Jackson and Coker of Physicians in the UK, younger ones (graduating medical school in 2000 and later) were almost 50% more likely to appreciate the value of medical apps than older ones (graduating between 1960 and 1985). Social media represent a vast opportunity for physicians to adopt mHealth technologies. Most physicians use social media for personal use, but professional use has lagged behind. This is in part due to physicians being unaware of the positive aspects of social media of as well as hesitancy because of potential pitfalls. The AMA has recently established and published professional guidelines in the use of social media. Social media and medicine will be the topic of a few upcoming posts on this site. Social media is a place where mHealth technologies are a hot topic and therefore more prone to be seen, reviewed, and appreciated by younger physicians. While medicine changes slowly with regards to adoption of new treatments and technology, younger physicians today are taking more initiative in affecting positive changes in the arena. I look forward to having them become champions of technology which will be more efficient and less complex tools to engage, diagnose, and treat their patients.