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If batches had human rights: Telemedicine Part 2 - change and its detractors

What restrains our rational faculties causing us to disparage telemedicine and downplay electronic batch processing? As two very similar technologies, might they have common detractors?

I’m sure the irony of Part 1, where I bluntly compared the advances in telemedicine with what is achievable with electronic batch processing was readily understood by you, dear, reader. The technology overlap is remarkable: measure frequently with a Cloud-storable/retrievable diagnostic tool and evaluate with a remotely located expert, as needed. But the similarity runs deeper.

Why would anyone use antiquated methods, the obsolete old guard technologies (see my July 5, 2007 blog “Batch processing, baseball and baloney: time to re-examine?” for details) when simpler, less costly, self-reliant methods are available? Lest you think that this is just a smug, rhetorical question, permit me to quote a few on-line comments made by readers of the WSJ article:

  • Sorry Dr. Topol, your solution will lead to all citizens permanently festooned with a bunch of wearable gadgets all going "Beep".

  • … eating less and exercising more -a very low cost, low tech intervention. But without the glamour and profit potential of all the gadgets Topol is touting.

  • Big business is the name of the game in today's hospitals as medicine becomes the military industrial complex of our age.

Wait, to what was I referring when I just now wrote “simpler, less costly, self-reliant methods are available”? Actually, both the telemedicine and the ANA methods. Modernization – change – has its detractors.

  • Is it possible that one of the gadgets going beep will provide immediate life-saving information?(and is anyone forcing you to wear it?)

  • Is every malady caused by poor diet and lack of exercise?And even if so, do we want to puritanically insist that only the well-nourished athletes are worth helping?

  • Are we, business people, ourselves, obliged to frown on business?

And how do any of these criticisms address Dr. Topol’s conclusion that data-rich telemedicine will reduce medical costs and improve patient health and satisfaction?

Those committed to status quo or to coercive, imposed solutions have valid points: it is possible to misuse the product or to abuse the system. Is rejection of the demonstrably functioning alternative the best response? What do you think?

As for me, I want to add another on-target point from the article:

Indeed, obtaining patient data solely from the occasional office visit is no way to get a full picture of someone’s health or to assess their medical needs. As more people generate and maintain their own medical data, they will carry this information around with them, no longer leaving it in the exclusive domain of doctors.

Here, with great irony to those who foresee gadgeteering, overeating and profiteering – as the respondents appear to be concerned with – is the core behavioral change in the telemedicine model: self-reliance.

Can you see the exact same principle applied to electronic batch processing?

I’m counting on it.

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