January 13, 2015


Doctor Android : In the same way that Luther challenged the Catholic Church, smartphones are poised to upend the medical profession. (DAVID A. SHAYWITZ, Jan. 12, 2015, WSJ)

We instinctively reach for our smartphones when we need to take pictures, get directions, deposit checks or reserve a table. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and digital pioneer, thinks that they are ready to perform at least one more task: revolutionize health care. In "The Patient Will See You Now," he argues that smartphones will democratize medicine by bringing data and control directly to the people.

The power of doctors, says Dr. Topol, "can be likened to that of religious leaders and nobility" in centuries past, when knowledge and authority belonged to a small elite. He notes that we've never seen "a discrete challenge to the medical profession" akin to Luther 's challenge to the Roman Catholic Church or democracy's challenge to monarchy and despotism. "But we've not had the platform or landscape for that to be accomplished. Until now." Smartphones, he says, enable a range of medical applications to move from the hospital to the home, and they shift medicine's locus of control from doctor to patient. [...]

The insight at the heart of Dr. Topol's message is that patients know themselves better than anyone else and are deeply invested in their own health. They have an incentive to monitor their health more comprehensively than a physician ever could and pursue treatment with a unique intensity of purpose. Doctors, for their part, must learn to cultivate rather than shun "involved" information-enabled patients and may be surprised to discover that "off-loading data and information is liberating."

The dirty secret is that you're going to hate this technology because it's going to relate a terrifying truth : you're healthy.  All that medicine you want to consume is just self-indulgence, not health care.

Posted by at January 13, 2015 3:21 PM

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