Dead But Don't Know It

The practice of medicine is a one way conversation.

Doctors, physicians and researchers dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the application of said knowledge for the purpose of improving health outcomes. To this end they are questioned and quizzed, provoked and prodded by an endless stream of patients with a dizzying range of ailments and asked “What’s the answer?”

Distill down everything you’ve learned from textbooks and classrooms and years of practice into a diagnosis that I can fit in a Facebook post.

It’s no wonder that the system is broken.

We are not empowering patients to have a conversation; instead we are giving them a human crystal ball and asking them to hope the genie had it’s coffee this morning.

Solutions are being built to empower doctors to parse through their knowledge and make more effective use of cutting edge technologies.

A several hundred page textbook can now be distilled down into a recommendation on a point of care device, and the doctor has shifted from genie to ventriloquist, mouthing the words on the screen.

But this does not fix the problem. Instead of empowering patients to have a conversation, we are replacing the man behind the curtain with a search engine and a pleasant UI. The source of knowledge is not being changed, the machine is still parsing the same medical journals and notes that the doctor would, but it can do so faster and more efficiently.

To truly understand a patient’s journey, we must give them the information to seek out their own answers and decide what additional information needs to be shared.

Doctors create fantastic solutions to their own problems, and their experiences have lead them to believe that they simply need to do their jobs better, without realizing that the job itself is fundamentally flawed.

The greatest irony is that the physicians job is to declare the fate of the patient, but they themselves are dead and do not know it.