Someone is watching you !

I spend a good amount of time every day reviewing emails that I get from medical and technology resources. These resources are mostly free and send out monthly/weekly/daily updates on a whole range of topics. Using such resources dramatically increases my efficiency.

Often, a remote editor and/or writing team have done the hard work of reviewing entire medical journals or up to date reports from major healthcare institutions, and have then filtered these sources down into a page long summary. This allows me to become aware of a whole range of new information with relatively little effort. One hour of my reading time is equivalent to days of scanning through journals and web sites, looking for the same information.

The fact that I can do this as an individual means that any professional can use the same tools to reap the same benefit. I appreciate that many doctors (like most people) have little extra time in the day. But quite simply, there is no excuse for doctors NOT keeping up. Perhaps you need to download a lecture and listen to it while you take your daily walk. Perhaps, you need to use the home “library” to catch up with your reading. But for doctors, who are SO dependent on being up to date, they simply must find the time. This is the kind of thing that is simply part of being a physician. If someone is willing to reimburse a doctor for the time spent reading, then lucky for that doctor. But staying up to date is a basic responsibility, like washing your hands before seeing a patient. Well, perhaps that is not the best example ….

The following link is an excellent lecture on medicine and technology. The presenter has a wonderful presence on the podium and relates the 45 minute long lecture like it is a campfire story – entertaining, informative and definitely worth your time. This lecture summarizes the state of medicine and technology and explains certain concepts in the best way I have ever heard them presented. For example, the presenter describes the system called Watson, which I have mentioned before in this blog. The way in which he explains the capabilities and limits of Watson makes it perfectly clear how important and helpful this system is and will continue to be.

I strongly suggest that anyone interested in healthcare and technology, take the time to listen to the whole lecture, and perhaps even take notes. If you have comments on the lecture and perhaps even questions, please feel free to send them my way as well (via the comment section). I will do my best to answer them ASAP.

I will allow myself to discuss one of the points presented in this excellent lecture. The question is asked: just because you can collect data about a patient, should you? For example, with new remote monitoring technologies, it is now possible to record an ECG every few minutes (and even faster). And these ECGs could be sent to a patient’s doctor as they are collected. Now the question is: will your health be improved by having your doctor reviewing 100’s of your ECGs recorded every day?

Imagine that all of your friends do the same thing. If all of these people have the same doctor, then this doctor will be flooded with 1000’s of ECGs per day. No doctor can handle such a load. And again, there is no guarantee that reviewing so many ECGs would necessarily save lives. What is really needed is an automated system that could review these ECGs and decide if any of them are significantly changed and/or abnormal. Then for the occasional ECG that is problematic, a warning could be sent to the family physician and he/she could act on it.

This really is the model for all types of monitoring. Information will constantly be collected and most often saved, either locally on your phone and/or somewhere in the cloud. Special analytics software will review all of the collected data and spot problems and inform the necessary people. So, whether you are tracking your blood sugar, or your cholesterol or your breathing rate, all of this data will be stored under your personal “medical data library” and will be used to make sure that you stay as healthy as possible (with minimal alerts so as not to drive everyone crazy).

There is so much more important information in this lecture, and I strongly recommend that you watch it.

Thanks for listening


About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.
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