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From Doctor to Futurist: Step #5 Being a Medical Futurist

After fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a doctor and a geneticist, I decided to make a brave change in my academic career and started discovering the steps needed to become a medical futurist. There is no clear path or course for that, therefore I try to reveal more and more information about this exciting journey in this series of blog entries.

This step might be surprising but it’s really important to position yourself. Everyone is a futurist now therefore one must be very cautious when using this expression. Scott Smith, changeist, divides them into the following groups:

There are different flavors of futurists. There is the professional, consulting kind, many of whom trained in a formal university or professional program, and use structured methods and tools to help large organizations make sense of trends and develop strategies. There are the self-proclaimed futurists who are enthusiasts of a specific area such as technology, food, health, culture and so on, who dedicate themselves to furthering a favored future (here I would place Kurzweil and kin). Then, there are the broader masses of folk who like the idea of the future, and speak about leading others there, or just surround themselves in the trappings of all that is shiny and future-esque.

While there are university programs and courses in futuristic studies, I don’t think I should deal with the major changes in economy or society (see the video below), but focus only on bringing disruptive medical technologies to everyday healthcare.

 

Brian David Johnson, the futurist of Intel,  described what if feels like being a futurist:

  1. You start with understanding what people need and want.
  2. You understand what technology holds for the next few years.
  3. You collect data about the changing world.
  4. Then you try to find out what it would feel like to be human in the near future based on the previous observations and data.

Some people try to foresee the future in many ways, others try to predict outcomes by using social media discussions, or focus on technological advances such as Google Glass, although my job is not to foresee or predict anything, instead, extrapolate today’s trends and try to prepare all stakeholders of healthcare for changes they will have to face.

While others don’t, I do believe healthcare will always need medical professionals, but it’s true their role will be different serving as apo-mediators in the system. This is the area where someone must take responsibility and implement practical changes into everyday medicine.

This is why I created a website where I collect all my activities and correctly identify myself as a medical futurist describing the clear missions I outlined: medicalfuturist.com.

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At my recent Doctors 2.0 and You keynote in Paris, I described some major points about what it means to be a medical futurist and what aspects I have to keep in mind.

  • The future of healthcare will be based on patients who will be able to measure anything about themselves from blood count to ECG and even genomic data.
  • We must prepare students and medical professionals for this digital world. This is why I launched a university course, an e-learning platform and wrote a book. Every medical student in the world must read e-Patient Dave’s book!
  • My role as a medical futurist is to close the gap between e-patients and their not that web-savvy doctors; as well as between digital technologies and everyday medicine.

Steps taken so far:

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