Medicine in the age of technology. Does the personal matter?

There is much talk about ways we can reduce the costs of health care and to ‘streamline’ health care. There are some conversations that are happening about people putting symptoms into machines to generate diagnoses and then generate a treatment algorithm instead of seeing a doctor. This would of course make the cost of health care cheaper by eliminating the role of the physician, but is this really the best practice of medicine?

Can computers and algorithms really replace the role of doctor, or even nurse?

Even if it would reduce ‘costs’ by eliminating the personal contact in medicine, is this really the way forward in medicine?

Would it offer better patient ‘care’?

Would it even offer better patient ‘diagnosis’?

Many patients come to see me having put their symptoms in a symptom checker online only to be freaked out by the potential of multiple serious diagnoses, only to then find when they see me that they have something quite simple and nowhere near as severe as the symptom checkers had lead them to believe.

It takes skill, connection and experience to diagnose what is happening in a person as no two people have the same presentation of an illness and disease.
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Sensitivity in Medicine – Really?

In medicine we are trained that we need to be tough, hard, strong, and the latest buzz word to come from the NHS – ‘resilient’. ie no matter what comes at us, we need to be tough and hard enough to handle it. Well, we all know how well that works out in the army! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder abounds…

Besides, should we really be treating health care like a battle zone? Come on. Lets get serious here.

Resilience and toughness builds barriers between people. It creates hardness, coldness, efficaciousness, and distance between people. There is no care in resilience, nor love in hardness or toughness.

Perhaps toughness is required for the battlefield where truly awful things are seen and done to other people, but health care is about people; specifically, the profession has the word ‘care’ in it…..

How can we care for others when we are hard, tough, strong and have created protective barriers between us and others? Continue reading