After #MedX: Thoughts From a Plane

photo (4)I was left with only a paper and pen when the battery of my laptop drained to red. I was flying home from California, after attending a conference on emerging technology and medicine. The days had immersed me in the culture of futurism, the Cloud, and big data. And as my laptop power faded, my pen began to fly. I kept thinking about this digital baptism. 

Throughout the weekend, I had witnessed patients and caregivers creating digital ways to manage personal care. Doctors experimenting with better technological algorithms to provide care that patients deserve. Even a teenager!! who created a novel diagnostic tool as a result of personal heartbreak. 

And they were awesome. Truly. 

But as amazing as all these innovations are - and as star-struck as I was - I struggled with the seemingly glaring commonality. All of these great advances provide only one piece of a larger puzzle. In order to see the whole picture of health being created, the fundamental piece of a valued doctor-patient relationship still remained on the table. 

Ultimately, many of these tech tools had be used within a healthy relationship between humans to find success. And humans, by definition, are fallible. So despite the great additions these technologies added to the care of patients, the puzzle was left with a glaring hole.

My current reality is that everyday I see patients, as young as 18-months-old, grab their family’s iPhone. Effortlessly, they swipe and tap to see photos. They engage in touch and tap early-learning games. Every once and awhile, they may actually put the phone up to their ear. 

How is health going to look in their future? What can we create today to ensure that quality care is available as effortlessly as a tap and swipe? What tools could we offer to empower and properly direct their self-care? 

But more importantly, how are we going to use technology to facilitate a “new and improved” partnership between docs and future patients, as the amount of raw data available at our fingertips continues to increase? What needs to change in order to continue to do all our jobs well? What pieces are missing?

I’ve seen a glimmer of solutions, and heard the whispers of problem-solving discussions. It is only the beginning....