Talk about disruptive innovation!

My friend, Dr. Michael Victoroff, the Editor-in-Chief of EHRevent Report, a monthly newsletter published by the PDR Network, is a major proponent for the effective use of electronic health records (EHRs). His newsletter often provides interesting examples of where things can go wrong with their use. This is great intelligence for people using these EHR systems; it heightens awareness while promoting expanding, effective use.

on a new law in Nevada that requires its Department of Motor Vehicles to come up with regulations and safety standards related to “autonomous vehicles,” or motor vehicles that drive themselves without the active intervention of a human being. “The foresight is breathtaking,” he wrote. “Here we have a state legislature that realizes the traditional constructs of liability, accountability and safety need to be revisited when humans partner with intelligent machines.”

So, as we look at our own pharmacy profession future, it is easy to imagine that robotics will continue to evolve. There is no question that innovators will develop new diagnostics and monitoring devices and new tools for delivering medicines and treatments. Are these developments threats or opportunities? I believe that if we embrace that technology and use it to our patients’ advantage, then these inevitable innovations are opportunities and our profession will be just fine. As long as humans have free will, there will be a need for us to counsel, cajole, motivate, teach, manage, sympathize, be empathetic, and communicate.

I also believe that we need to participate fully, and indeed LEAD the development of policies to guide technology adoption in order to keep patient interests first. Our work with the is essential to this process.

It doesn’t matter, really, if we like the advance of technology or not. “New and improved” is always coming. We can’t stop it. How we adopt and use it is the key. Hang on. The future is coming—and we might finally get something done during our commute.

with a few provocative questions I thought were worth sharing. Thanks, Michael, for some very good stuff.

Nevada Bets on Autonomy

The law normally lags behind technology by decades—if not centuries. But, Nevada recently enacted a regulatory framework for technology that doesn’t even exist yet! Last June the governor signed a bill that directs the DMV to “establish a driver’s license endorsement for the operation of an autonomous vehicle on the highways of this State.”

The statute defines “autonomous vehicle” as “a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator.” The law requires the DMV to devise regulations and safety standards for the vehicle, the driver, for insurance coverage, areas where use is approved, and “other requirements as the Department determines to be necessary.”

Autonomous cars? Wow. This is a light-year beyond sending reminder letters to people who skipped their colonoscopies. But, many legal questions are similar.

Is the “learned intermediary” responsible if the robot chauffeur plows into a crosswalk full of pedestrians? Does the auto company pay for speeding tickets? “Sir, may I please see your End-User License Agreement and log of software updates?”

The foresight is breathtaking. Three cheers for Nevada. It was only a few months ago that the Institute of Medicine declared that we need to think more deeply about adverse events associated with EHRs—and we’ve been using them for decades! Here we have a state legislature that realizes the traditional constructs of liability, accountability and safety need to be revisited when humans partner with intelligent machines. Auto makers, like pharmaceutical companies and EHR developers, have enjoyed a degree of insulation from liability attributable to operator error. That will change as systems become the drivers, and humans slide over to the navigator seat.

Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer who conceived the Three Laws of Robotics (in 1942!) is chuckling on his couch in outer space.