Making surgery safer in an increasingly digital world: the internet—friend or foe?

H. Van Puyvelde, M. Basto, A. S. J. Chung*, S. Van Bruwaene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The internet has resulted in huge efficiency gains in health care, the ability to deal with massive data accumulation and better manage patient data. However, potential and real pitfalls exist, including breeches in security of data and patient confidentiality, data storage issues, errors, and user interface issues. Methods: A MEDLINE review was performed using MeSH terms “health care” and “information technology.” Cross-referencing was used to explore the different opportunities and challenges the internet has to offer. Results: As health professionals, we are fast adopting technologies at our fingertips, such as WhatsApp and video capabilities, into our clinical practice to increase productivity and improve patient care. However, the potential security breaches are significant for the health professional and health service. Further, electronic medical records have theoretical advantages to improve patient care, reduce medication errors, and expedite referrals. The downside is a less personalized approach to patient care, as well as the potential for these systems to be even more cumbersome. In regard to the acquisition of knowledge, there is no doubt the internet is our friend. Health care professionals as well as patients have unlimited resources for learning, including podcasts videos, apps, simulators, and wearable devices. Unfortunately, this comes with a risk of misinformation and poorly referenced data with little to no regulation of content. Conclusion: In this increasing digital world, it is our task as health care providers to embrace these new technologies but develop guidelines and control systems to minimize the pitfalls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1395
Number of pages5
JournalWorld Journal of Urology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Communication
  • Electronic health
  • Information technology
  • Internet
  • Records
  • Smartphone
  • Text messaging


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