Sunday, October 2, 2011

The iPatient and the real patient

In this TED video physician Abraham Verghese of Stanford University makes his case for the importance of ritual in patient care, saying that technology can become the focus of a physician's attention at the expense of the need of the patient for a human relationship with his or her medical caregiver. He cites the need for a listening to the patient and giving a through physician examination in person as a way of gaining the confidence of the patient in a way that a scans and lab tests cannot. It seems to me that the challenge is to retain the ritual while including the technology. We live in a world in which friendship is increasingly being understood in context of social media rather than in the context of physical proximity and time spent together. Cyberspace is amazing and allows for social connections that would not otherwise be possible. Medicine is very largely about data, information and knowledge. It is also about caring for the actual person.

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