Advances in technology have had a huge impact on the medical field. Technology has provided new treatments and pharmaceuticals that have lowered mortality and increased many patients quality of life. It has given us access to up-t0-the minute consults 24 hours a day because we can send images across the world to a doctor in a different time zone. A few years ago I was in an auto accident and one of the other passengers had a CT scan. The hospital in Texas sent the scan to Australia to be read by a radiologist on duty…magic!
Every time we look at the advantages in medicine due to technology we have to consider the trade-off in our care. I was reading the Journal of the American Medical Association and there was a story about the evolution of an attending physician. The doctor explained that due to technology, med students, interns and residents have access to data with the push of a button on a palm held device. This physician was concerned about what he had to offer the up and coming class of doctors and then he realized that the people part of medicine couldn’t be taught by technology.
No matter how technological medicine becomes the doctor-patient relationship can’t be superseded by a machine. The attending physician was able to lead by example how to interact with a patient. As a patient, I’m excited that this doctor was mindful of the gifts he had to offer. I’m ecstatic that the art of medicine involves the connection between two people with a common goal.
As a pilgrim on the path to healing, it’s crucial that we put our foot down if we feel technology is getting in the way of the healing relationship. We may be required to teach our medical providers how to help us heal. They may have the corner on the market when it comes to conventional treatments, but without the mind-body-spirit connection it’s incomplete. Having the capacity to allow holistic health be the foundation for medicine is as much an advance as any technology.