Over time I suspect that patients have the ability to do more on our own without the oversight of doctors. Much like the slow obsolescence of the bank teller, our interface with the health system will move from human exchange to something more algorithmic and automated. Right now we want this. We don’t like human inconvenience.
But we still want the old thing. Patients want all the wonders of technology with the benefits of human connection. As I suggested in 2013 in Doctors, Patients, Old and New:
“We talk endlessly about the power of the story and the importance of patient narrative but we want desperately to be recorded, uploaded, graphed, and analyzed. We don’t want to be seen as a number but we demand that our numbers are seen.”
There’s lots of talk about the unique human nature of patients. In fact, we celebrate and study what patients bring to the exam room. But I don’t think I’ve heard reference to the unique identifying parts of a physician. It isn’t valued. Variance is not tolerated. As physicians continue to regress to the means of consistency and quality, expect our unique traits to be marginalized. These inconsistencies are a human inconvenience in the process of moving patients.
As health becomes industrialized and automated, I suspect that the quirky texture that defines a human health professional will be something patients crave and seek. It’s our odd attributes that allow a unique synchrony with those in need.
As technology evolves, our weird angles may be the thing that allows us to stand out among the streamlined machines.
If you like this, you may like the MD Future archive. This tag marks posts that deal with the future of the physician. What will become of the physician and what will work be like in the next 25 years?
Image via Nicholas Bui on Unsplash.