Having excitedly accepted an offer to travel to Sydney to speak at a meeting later this year I find myself more than a little bit apprehensive as the presenter of the topic ‘The doctor of the Future’. How can anyone know how we’ll be practicing medicine in, say, 10 years?

The world is changing very, very quickly. Technology has transformed (and even led to the downfall) of news print media, travel, music, telephony and banking. As consumers, we have become spoilt with almost infinite inventories from online retailers. We can book flights and all means of travel online. We have instant access to virtually unlimited quantities of information, massive computing power in our pockets and the way in which we define our social networks has changed in ways we could not have imagined.

If we believe the hype, the practice of medicine is going to be disrupted in similar ways. 

As a lover of technology I have allowed myself to get caught up in the hype and promise of technology to a greater extent than many. I have been seduced by (and then fallen out love with) all sorts of gadgets and services. Some have undoubtedly helped; the electronic medical record, email, text messaging & high speed internet have been a blessing. Twitter, the way in which it has redefined and expanded by professional network, has changed the way in which I access medical information. Having well motivated, informed patients has helped and sometimes challenged me in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated even 5 years ago. 

And yet, improvements in medical treatments aside, when I think of my working day seeing patients, things haven’t altered that much. The nuts and bolts of what I do – listening, touching, empathising, thinking & prescribing hasn’t really changed. Its just that I think (it may too soon to be sure) that technology has freed me up with a little more time to do these things better. 

What do you think?

How would you like the doctor of the future to be? 


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