The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology AND the Human Touch

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and the Human Touch
Author: Bertalan Mesko

SYNOPSIS

Technological advancement is undoubtedly the most important factor that will shape the future of medicine. In this book, the author sets out the advances which he predicts will have the greatest impact on healthcare. He reviews 22 influential trends, pointing out the potential benefits, as well the threats they pose to ‘the human touch, the so-called art of medicine‘ (page x). The book calls on healthcare stakeholders to understand and accommodate these advances so that medicine does not evolve into a ‘purely technology-based service without personal interaction’ (page ix).

Technology-1. tec_estromberg on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/92334668@N07/11123530043
Technology-1. tec_estromberg on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/92334668@N07/11123530043

The book is brimming with examples of the cutting-edge devices and processes which will considerably influence the practice of medicine. A prominent example is robotic surgery, a field that has significantly progressed from the early Lindbergh operation and gamma knife, to the daVinci system Xi and the future potential for automated robotic surgery (pages 37, 51-59). Other striking advancements include the iknife in brain tumour surgery (page 35), stem cells in regenerative medicine (page 87-92), and a vast array of digestible, embedded, and wearable biosensors (page 73). Many of the technologies are in the very early stages of development, such as 3D printing of easily digestible food (page 22), nanorobots that will render the need to eat unnecessary (page 27), multi-function medical tricorders (page 80), smart contact lenses, and holographic keyboards (page 34).

Wellcome Images on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellcomeimages/12656179955
Wellcome Images on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellcomeimages/12656179955

A core expectation of these technologies is that they will put control of healthcare in the hands of patients, who in turn will become enlightened and empowered, ‘ready to hack and disrupt healthcare’ (page 2). The book illustrates how these e-patients are already forming digitial communities such as PatientsLikeMe and CrowdMed, environments which enable them to share ‘insights and details about living with their conditions’ (page 9). The engaged, equipped, enabled, and expert patient will take on the task of monitoring their diseases, aided by smart devices and gamification programmes such as Lumosity (page 14). The author says doctors should acquire the skills that will enable them ‘to assist their patients in learning the meaningful use of social media and the internet’ (pages 10-13).

Devices in the Cloud-Technology. Blue Coat Photos on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/16203260320
Devices in the Cloud-Technology. Blue Coat Photos on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/16203260320

The book also reviewed the impact of technology on medical practice. It cites advances such as the virtual human body and synthetic cadavers which are replacing traditional methods of learning (pages 43-46). The author predicts that medical education in future will be characterised by ‘no old books, no cadavers pickled with formaldehyde, no lack of information or educational resources…’ (page 48). The author expects that technology will generate an ‘exponential amount of medical information‘, and he advocates a customised way to ‘curate and crowd-source the very best of medical research’ to aid physicians apply the knowledge meaningfully (page 2). In adopting technological advancements, the author urges physicians to maintain the empathy that lies at the heart of healthcare, and to do this by ‘consciously and purposely’ redesigning medicine ‘piece by piece’ (page x).

By Ansonlobo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
By AnsonloboOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Throughout the book, the author makes reference to the experts and expert patients who are playing a major role in the trends he discussed. For example, he has met and discussed with e-patients Dave deBronkart (page 6) and Kathy McCurdy (page 11), and with robotics expert Catherine Mohr (page 50). He gave the inspiring example of the precocious genius, Jack Andraka, and his pioneering do-it-yourself biotechnology (page 95). He praised entrepreneurs Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the successful startup laboratory testing company Theranos (page 100), and Ariel Garten who founded the brain wave sensing company InteraXon (page 150). He related the stories of brave patients such as Amanda Boxtel, who uses a powered exoskeleton to overcome paralysis (page 111).

By Dontworry - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
By DontworryOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
OPINION

The author, a medical doctor and self-described medical futurist, explores a wide scope of technologies which are at different stages of advancement. The book extensively covered the subject, exploring the exciting, the astounding, and the intriguing. It however did not adequately show how technology and the human touch will be compatible, a core feature of the book’s title. The book is also relatively silent on how healthcare should be redesigned to accommodate technology. These shortcomings however do not diminish the key message that physicians should be aware of, and be prepared for, the advances shaping their profession.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

Physicians need to know of the technologies which are advancing and influencing healthcare, and they need to adapt their practice accordingly. The author has researched this subject extensively, highlighting the key technological trends which will shape the future Medicine. The information is essential reading, and I recommend it to all doctors.

BOOK DETAILS
  • Publisher, Place, Year: Self-published 2014
  • Number of Chapters: 23
  • Number of Pages: 211
  • ISBN: 978-963-08-9802-7
  • Price: £6.95
  • Star Rating: 4
  • Similar books: 2030 The Future of Medicine

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s