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Five Expectations For Physicians About The Future of Medicine

The waves of technological changes coming towards us will generate new possibilities as well as serious threats to medicine and healthcare. Every stakeholder must prepare for these changes in order to reach a balance between using disruptive technologies in medicine and keeping the human touch.

I remain confident that it is still possible to establish that balance and there are reasons not only for patients but also for physicians to look forward to the next few years in medicine. Here are 5 of them.

1) Finally focus on patients

Technology is not against physicians and algorithms are not designed to replace them. Instead, by using efficient and simple technologies in the practice, physicians will finally have time and energy to focus on the patients.

Looking into their eyes while inputting data with augmented reality (Google Glass or digital contact lenses); listening to patients instead of trying to find the right information (as IBM Watson provides that already); and having access to all the devices that are needed to provide a good care (smartphones serving as biosensor packages). What is it if not a great prospect?

2) Avoid burning out

With supercomputers being used in medical decision making; physicians having skills related to digital literacy; using intuitive IT solutions that make it simple to input, export and move around data just like how children today use touchscreen devices; and getting access to the medical information they actually need, hours can be saved every week.

With less effort and time, they will be able to provide more care for their patients. This way, patient reward becomes an essential part again in the process of practicing medicine helping caregivers avoid burning out.

3) Use data that patients collect

The wearable revolution in health peaking this year gives patients the chance to take care of their own health, thus measure health parameters that have only been available and accessible in the ivory tower of medicine.

By bringing this data to the doctor visit, they can save time and effort, moreover, a true partnership between them can be established. As devices become better, cheaper and more efficient, physicians can soon start encouraging their patients to measure parameters relevant to their health and the results will be discussed and used during the next visit.

4) Crowdsource, crowdfund and crowdsolve

With the advances of social media and technologies that give access to these channels, no medical professional should feel alone when dealing with a complicated medical problem of challenge.

If information is needed, it can be crowdsourced; if funding is needed for a new project; it can be crowdfunded; and when a real medical solution is needed, they can find that through an inter-connected network of experts, resources and services.

5) Share responsibility with patients

Although it is now the responsibility of physicians to become the guides for their patients online (that requires new skills), by empowering them, actually responsibility can finally be shared. Medical professionals don’t have to make decisions alone, but in a close partnership with the patient.

But for this, every stakeholder must start preparing in time.

 

The most important trend in physician communications: Report

MDigitalLife released a report about the most important trend in physician communications. Read their statement and download the report here.

They also shared an interesting insight about my Twitter statistics.

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Five Expectations For Patients About The Future of Medicine

The waves of technological changes coming towards us will generate new possibilities as well as serious threats to medicine and healthcare. Every stakeholder must prepare for these changes in order to reach a balance between using disruptive technologies in medicine and keeping the human touch. I remain confident that it is still possible to establish that balance and there are reasons for patients to look forward to the next few years in medicine. Here are 5 of them.

1) Health management: The vast majority of people only deal with their health when they get sick. It is due to the fact that it has been really difficult to obtain useful data about our health. Now, the wearable revolution produces a lot of devices that bring health data measurements to our homes. So far, only physicians and hospitals could measure parameters, but today anyone can. Whether it is ECG, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, EEG or sleep, devices which we can order online provide us with the chance of changing lifestyle based on informed decisions.

Such devices will eventually get smaller and cheaper, and we will hopefully only use them when it is of help.

alivecor-ecg

AliveCor measures ECG with a smartphone.

2) Partnership: Medicine is a paternalistic system with the doctor being on the top making decisions about the patients. The digital revolution has changed it dramatically as now information, devices and even studies became widely available to anyone with an internet connection. This newly formed partnership makes it possible to be equal with the caregiver and play an equal role in making decisions. This will create an ecosystem in which patients get more possibilities to take care of themselves, while physicians will get help from their own patients. Jackpot. Although, a very old system has to be deconstructed for this.

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3) Communities: Social media is not famous for connecting patients, but several stories proved its potential power in connecting patients with like-minded others. We have done discussed our health concerns with our neighbors before. Now we do the same online without limitations and physical boundaries. Blogs, community sites, forums, Youtube and Twitter channels focus on patients and let them have their voices heard. As Kerri Morrone Sparling said, her doctor is an expert but can only understand what she goes through every single day if he/she is diabetic, otherwise he/she can only guess.

internet concept

4) Access to data: The Blue Button movement and E-Patient Dave’s talks encourage people to understand how important it is to own your own health data. It is not only unbelievable but actually outrageous that many hospitals and practices cannot communicate online with each other. Moreover, in others, patients who want to get their own X-Ray image must provide an empty CD disk to get it in the era of digital revolution. As it is not rocket science, we can expect to see major steps forward in this area. Without proper health data, informed medical decisions cannot be made.

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5) Prediction and prevention: Never in the history of medicine patients have had that many opportunities to predict and actually prevent diseases. Anyone can order genetic tests that tell them what rare conditions and mutations they carry and what drugs they are genetically sensitive for. We are not far away from doing a blood test or sequencing genes at home. In this sea of opportunities, the activity and participation of patients are very much needed, In a few years’ time, we will have to deal with the problem of too many choices regarding wearable devices. What is required for making good decisions is knowledge about where we are heading; and skills to make our own assumptions.

If changes happen as expected, patients will benefit the most of a newly constructed and entirely better healthcare system.

My new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, includes more details and an actual guide about how to prepare properly for the technological changes.

Open Access Social Media Guide for Pharma: Let’s Crowdsource the New Version!

In 2011, we published a crowdsourced open access guide for pharmaceutical companies containing practical pieces of advice about how to use and how not to use social media. As there was no guide from the FDA that time, we thought we would assist the FDA and the EMA in creating one that would make it simpler for companies to interact with patients and physicians online. Later, the FDA issued its own guidance but the EMA confirmed to me they did not plan to.

We still think that a less legally complicated, but more practical short guide is still needed therefore Paul Lane, the Director of Social Media and Web-based Information at the Envision Pharma Group (Medical Communications Agency) and I decided to release an updated version for which we are looking for contributors. Last time, over 50 people worked on the document.

Please let us know here if you are interested in participating!

Until then, here is the latest version:

The Guide to the Future of Medicine is Available: Download the E-book for Free!

I cannot tell you how happy I’m to announce the official release of my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine which was just made available in black & white paperback, colored paperback and Kindle formats. Moreover, the Kindle format is for free (yes, totally free) until the 6th of September.

It contains over one year of hard work, 70 interviews and 22 trends that will shape the future of medicine including Augmented Reality, Surgical and Humanoid Robots, Genomics, Body Sensors, The Medical Tricorder, 3D Printing, Exoskeletons, Artificial Intelligence, Nanorobots, Virtual–Digital Brains, The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs or Cryonics and Longevity.

Through these, I challenged myself to prove that it is possible to use more and more disruptive technologies in medicine while successfully keeping the human touch.

With Lucien Engelen’s foreword, the many examples and extraordinary stories depicted in the book, you will hopefully get a clear picture where medicine and healthcare are heading at the moment, and more importantly, what we can do as patients, medical professionals or policy makers to prepare for the waves of change.

Please use the #medicalfuture hashtag on Twitter and tell me what you think!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Let’s Prepare For The Future!

We are facing major changes as medicine and healthcare now produce more developments than in any other era. Key announcements in technology happen several times a year, showcasing gadgets that can revolutionize our lives and our work. Only five or six years ago it would have been hard to imagine today’s ever increasing billions of social media users; smartphone and tablet medical applications; the augmented world visible through Google Glass; IBM’s supercomputer Watson used in medical decision making; exoskeletons that allow paralyzed people to walk again; or printing out medical equipment and biomaterials in three dimensions.

Medical Doctor holding a world globe in her hands as medical network concept

 

It would have sounded like science fiction. Sooner or later such announcements will go from multiple times a year to several times a month, making it hard to stay informed about the most recent developments. This is the challenge facing all of us.

Based on my white paper and CNN article, I decided to demonstrate where the world of medicine is heading in a a book which will come out late August. The Guide to the Future of Medicine will feature 22 trends and technologies that will shape the future.

My mission with the book is to prove that the relation between the human touch in medicine and using disruptive innovations is mutual. By losing the quintessence of practicing medicine, the real-life doctor-patient relationship, we would lose everything. Although without implementing innovative technologies, it is becoming more and more complicated (if not impossible) to provide proper care.

Therefore this new world requires preparation and new skills must also be acquired. I wrote this book to fulfill this mission. 

Here are some of the topics you will be able to read about soon everywhere online before the book comes out.

  • Health Sensors In and Outside The Body
  • DIY Biotechnology
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence in Medical Decision Support
  • Hospitals of the Future
  • Nanotechnology
  • The 3D Printing Revolution
  • The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs
  • and many more!

Let’s prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine together! #medicalfuture

 

Social Media in Clinical Practice: The Handbook

Springer published my book, Social Media in Clinical Practice, almost a year ago and since then, I have received an amazing number of photos about people holding the book, social media posts and e-mails from readers who found my handbook to be very helpful in their professional lives. While the content is fortunately still up-to-date, it seems the turn-around time for a new book is about one year as lately, the number of messages has dramatically increased.

Medical professionals worldwide shared their insights, experience and suggestions about using social media resources in medicine using my book’s examples. Therefore, I’d like to ask anyone who likes to discuss such topics to use the #hcsm hashtag on Twitter or contact me directly, I’m always happy to initiate new discussions.

Here you can check out the detailed descriptions of all the chapters.

Dr Mesko_Social Media in Clinical Practice Cover

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