Knowing how to use and implement technology in the field of psychology can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, technology can streamline your practice and help you create and implement plans of action quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, technology is advancing so quickly that it seems there’s a new innovation coming down the line the minute you open the box on your new program. The benefits of technology generally outweigh the frustrations it brings with it, though. Here are five ways to integrate technology into your practice without driving yourself crazy in the process!
1) Know Your Tech
You wouldn’t try to diagnose a patient without knowing at least something about them. This should also be your golden rule for bringing in new technology or programs. While online interactive tools such as Rorschach tests can be very effective if used properly, they also require the interpretation of a trained clinician to be valid. Knowing and understanding the benefits, pitfalls, and limitations of a new diagnostic program can help you use any technology you incorporate into your practice with maximum efficiency and minimum stress for you and your patients.
2) Ask Around
Getting a second opinion on anything is almost de rigor these days. If you have a tech-savvy colleague or former instructor, it would be worth your while to ask them what programs and tools they find to be most useful and effective. Consider all the options carefully and, if possible, request they give you a demonstration of how their favored programs work. This will help you avoid difficulties later when being able to use these programs effectively could literally mean the difference between life and death.
3) Trust Your Gut
While technology is helpful in just about any practice, it should never be taken as a substitute for your own knowledge, skills, and instincts. You’re still the doctor, not some chunk of plastic and metal. When you understand how the technologies you’re using in your practice work, and don’t, you’ll be better able to work around the inherent problems in any tool or program.
4) Will This Really Help?
Like anything else, any program or a new piece of technology you bring into your practice should be weighed and evaluated on a basis of cost versus benefit. If the new technology has too many limitations to make it a viable addition to your practice, you’re probably better off without it. Another point to consider is what kind of hands-on training or practice is needed to use and troubleshoot it effectively. Can you train your staff in the use of the new technology yourself, or does it require a special setting such as a conference? The answers to questions like this will help you screen out the things that won’t help you or your patients.
5) Security Is the Primary Consideration
Many practices are using iPads, PDAs, and cloud-based computing to quickly store and file patient information. Everything from a patient’s insurance coverage to the contents of your last conversation can be quickly accessed, brought up, read, and analyzed. This raises thorny questions about HIPPA and patient privacy, as well as a doctor-patient privilege. How secure is the technology you’re considering? Have there been problems in the past with people breaking into these programs? How easy are these systems to compromise, and will your practice’s Internet and intranet firewalls prevent such access? Before you incorporate any new technology into your practice, asking these critical questions can help you decide whether the technology you’re looking at will prove to be a worthwhile investment or a potential liability.