After reaching my childhood dream of becoming 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.
After giving a talk about how I have been using social media for medical purposes as a geek doctor at the recent FutureMed course at NASA campus organized by the Singularity University, I was very much surprised that the audience seemed to be quite surprised by the whole range of opportunities social media can provide in medicine. It became clear for me, my job as a medical futurist is not only facilitating the adoption of digital and disruptive technologies in the practice of medicine and healthcare, but I must put a special emphasis on social media.
I think this intention was also made clear in the reviews I wrote about the future of medicine (Key Trends in the Future of Medicine: E-Patients, Communication and Technology & 15 Predictions in Healthcare, Technology and Innovation for 2013).
It’s good to see my mission that clearly, but the steps ahead of me are still mysterious which makes the journey even more exciting. In this quest, my next task is to digest a few amazing must-have books for futurists:
The next step should be the comparison of the methodologies I have used as a genome researcher and the ones I should use now as a futurist. The point from which you become a futurist is also very interesting to cover.
Steps taken so far:
I have been documenting the steps of becoming a medical futurist for some time now (#1 The Decision; #2 The Filter), and it’s a pleasure to announce the next step as my application for attending the famous FutureMed conference/course was accepted. It is an amazing set of lectures organized and managed by the Singularity University. The faculty includes Peter Diamantis, Ray Kurzweil, Daniel Kraft or astronaut Dan Barry, among others.
Between 4 and 9 of February, I will listen to the most important experts of many medical areas such as the future of the medical practice, personalized medicine, robotics or biotech innovation.
FutureMed is an intimate program with one-on-one interaction with many of the 50+ World Class Faculty. Space is limited and FutureMed 2011 and 2012 sold out. The next FutureMed dates are still to be announced.
I cannot wait to attend it and of course, I’ll blog about the course and my next steps as well.
Here are the participants and faculty of 2012:
A few weeks ago, I started documenting all the steps in the process of becoming a futurist as a medical doctor. In the first step, I wrote about how I made that decision. Now, the second step is about how I collect information and filter the web in the field of futuristic studies from the medical perspective as I have to be able to deal with this huge amount of information.
It’s quite simple to reach futurist gurus internationally via social media, therefore first I sent messages to many of them such as Thomas Goetz and Clement Bezold asking for guidance and they provided me with great pieces of advice about which information resources I should use.
I set up Google Alerts search queries and filled Google Reader with these resources which means I receive all the relevant updates automatically. Here are the resources I started following in this topic:
- FutureMed2020 (sign up for their mailing list, Twitter account and Facebook).
- #futuremed hashtag on Twitter.
- Daniel Kraft, MD, executive director of FutureMed on Twitter.
- I became a member of Singularity Hub, it only costs a few US dollars per month and I get access to a unique and huge community of like-minded people. Also on Google+.
- Singularity University, also on Facebook and Twitter.
- Institute for the Future, also on Twitter and Facebook group.
- The Institute for Alternative Futures: here is their recent Primary Care 2025 report in PDF.
- Ian Morrison
- Peter H. Diamandis on Google+
- Twitter: TEDMED, Eric Topol, MD, Bryan Vartabedian, MD, Susannah Fox, Ves Dimov, MD, ePatient Dave
- The FutureMed magazines on Zeen by Christian Assad, MD.
Please let me know if you think there are resources I’m missing here. In the third step, I’ll write about the methodologies.
Now that I’m a few weeks away from defending my PhD thesis in the field of clinical genomics, I decided to start looking for new challenges in my academic career, and I pretty soon found it: becoming a futurist is the next step! This is the topic about which I have been writing on my blog and speaking in my presentations for many years. I just have to centralize the flow of information, my ideas and research projects under one entity, getting involved in futuristic studies.
I browsed among the names of futurists, and healthcare & medicine are not the most frequently covered topics therefore I think there is a niche for futurists working on the future trends of medicine and healthcare with a special focus on digital communication and e-patients.
In case you wonder what a futurist exactly is:
Futurists (not in the sense of futurism) or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is to attempt to systematically predict the future, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.
I talked with many futurists and the first thing they mentioned was that it’s pretty hard to describe what a futurist actually does and there aren’t many institutions dedicated to the medical aspects of this field. But I don’t give up things easily and decided to document each step in this probably long and exciting process. Next, I’ll collect the available research groups, associations and online repositories.
I’m very excited about this and I hope you will follow me on this road, actually I very much count on your feedback. For a doctor with a life-long mission of helping e-patients and the new generation of medical professionals with digital technologies and social media, I cannot wait to discover this new area.