Monday, June 30, 2008

Diagnosis 2.0

Check out Dr. Val's post on diagnosis using on-line tools. Val told the web tool she had abdominal pain and was diagnosed with a tubal pregnancy/ threatened abortion. Good diagnosis except that she also typed in that she was not pregnant.

"My bottom line: computers will replace physicians when robots replace spouses. Similar satisfaction rates will come from either replacement option."

Aside from the thousands of sarcastic remarks that jump to mind, I'll take it one step further by adding diagnosis over the phone/web/email could result in the same satisfaction rating. There is no substitute for a good history and careful exam. Nice post Val - that's the best one liner I've read in a while.


Dr. Val said...

High five from your Canadian friend "south of the border." :)

ibarasan said...

I think your readers should also read the very thoughtful response from Stephen Schueler - the founder of FreeMD. Dr. Schueler has been an emergency medicine physician for over 20 years.

In his response he acknowledges the weaknesses in the current technology, but he gives what is, I think, a more balanced and reasoned response to the general issue of how best to use technology to improve healthcare.

It's fairly easy to make some hyperbolic point at this stage of online health development to say that it's not replacing doctors. But as Dr. Schueler states, it's not meant to do that. It's meant to help the average medically-naive user become more informed before talking to their doctor.

As a Pharm.D., but not an M.D., I can tell you that going in to see my doctor and being able to offer them information in a structured manner most certainly gets me more attention, explanation and information from my doctor than if I didn't appear knowledgeable. I can see how FreeMD could do the same for the medically-naive consumer.

I'd like to see a more thoughtful treatment of the question of how technology can help people help themselves with their own healthcare. There's nothing wrong with an empowered healthcare consumer - and we should encourage novel business experiments that might help us get there.