PS 103 Lesson 3: The Risks and Rewards of Technology
Technology is often seen as the solution to many problems. Through technology — such as the computer and the Internet — we have been able to improve the speed of communication, transfer data over great distances, and access databases containing all sorts of information. Computers can often perform complex tasks more accurately and reliably than humans. Without such technology, we would not have been able to land on the moon or start using electronic health records. A significant benefit of technology is that — when used wisely — it can compensate for the factors, both internal and external, that set us up to make errors.

However, technology has its limitations. When not planned for and implemented effectively, designed appropriately, tested realistically, or used consistently, technology can actually cause more harm than it prevents. This lesson discusses the advantages and disadvantages of technology and offers some suggestions on how people can design technology to mitigate the impact of factors that contribute to errors.
Estimated Time of Completion: 25 minutes
Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
1. Describe how technology can reduce errors in health care.
2. Explain how the interface between humans and machines can also lead to errors.
3. Explain why the design and testing are important to ensure technology performs reliably and consistently.
Frank Federico, RPh, Vice President, Senior Patient Safety Expert, Institute for Healthcare Improvement View Profile
Robert Wachter, MD, Professor & Associate Chairman, Dept of Medicine, University of California San Francisco View Profile
Laura Fink, Director, Editorial and Online Learning, Institute for Healthcare Improvement View Profile
Lucian Leape, MD, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy, Harvard School of Public Health View Profile
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