Book Notes: The Creative Destruction of Medicine

January 19, 2012

It’s arrived: The Creative Destruction of Medicine – How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, Eric Topol’s prescient view of the near future of medicine.

This book details how four areas of digital medicine – wireless sensors, genomics, imaging and health information – are about to undergo a super-convergence marking perhaps the most disruptive period in medicine’s history.  Topol describes a coalescence of “the rapidly maturing digital, nonmedical world of mobile devices, cloud computing, and social networking with the emerging digital medical world of genomics, biosensors, and advancing imaging.”  An overarching theme in The Creative Destruction of Medicine is the inevitable march from population medicine to the science of the individual.

So why is this book is important?

We need to see the future.  Only by understanding the future are we able to plan for the needs of our next medical generation.  I’d like to put The Creative Destruction of Medicine into the hands of every professional medical educator and ask ‘are we preparing the physicians for the work that lies ahead?’  If not, this book should serve as a starting point for a conversation surrounding medical education reform.

It emphasizes the expanding role of the patient.   Medicine is increasingly anchored to the individual.  Creative Destruction makes it very clear that consumers will drive many of the changes currently brewing in health care.  This is perhaps the first book accessible to patients that clearly characterizes the changing face of medicine.  Every patient should read this book in order to understand the rapidly evolving role in they play in their own care.

It brings elements of a manifesto.  Any book that describes the state of the medical profession as sclerotic or ossified should have your attention.  The Creative Destruction of Medicine is a call to action for doctors and patients alike.  We must see our world and our job as doctor and patient very differently.  In a profession so uncertain of its future, we need precisely the vision and critical dialog offered here.  The final chapter confronts the challenges facing the creative destruction and reads like a commencement address.  I read this twice.  Pure gold.

Eric Topol knows what he’s talking about.  And as a master clinician, researcher and communicator, Topol is the man perfectly positioned to tell this story.  It’s this authority and breadth of experience that makes The Creative Destruction of Medicine so plausible.

Buy five copies, read one and gift the other four.  I suspect that 150 years from now when historians are looking back at the most dramatic flexion point in medicine’s history they’ll reference this book as one of the first to identify the start of medicine’s creative destruction.

Join the dialog on Twitter at #CDoM

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dean reinke January 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

The patient needs to be empowered, Amy Farber as part of the MIT MediaLab has a great insight on that. From the book,The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices.
For the past five years Farber has been battling not only her own disease but also the wall of resistance erected by those who believe that a patient can make about as much of a meaningful contribution to the process of scientific discovery as a laboratory rat.

Jane M. Graben January 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I enjoyed reading what you had to say about this book The Creative Destruction of Medicine. The author and you, in your critique, are right on. I know that I for one, am tired of medicines that cause more problems than they help. Deadly side effects are certainly not what we are looking for when we seek medical help from our doctors. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention.

Meagan January 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

That sounds like a very informative book! I think its great that medicine is turning more and more to be focused on the individual. Everyone is different and has different things going on in their body, therefore it should be tailored per individual. Thanks for the informing/engaging read!

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