“The Creative Destruction of Medicine” and “The Patient Will See You Now” by Eric Topol
Review by Kevin Pereau
Perhaps nobody in healthcare today challenges the status quo quite like Dr. Eric Topol. He now has two books under his belt:
The Creative Destruction of Medicine, and,
The Patient Will See You Now
In both, Dr. Topol explores how digital technologies are changing the healthcare landscape. The analogy he uses when describing this change, is the printing press. Yes, it’s that big!
Our smart phones are democratizing healthcare in the way Guttenberg’s printing press democratized the written word back in the 14th century. Prior to Guttenberg, because of the expense of producing hand written manuscripts, it was only the aristocrat who could read. The printing press, given its spread of the written word and its subsequent effects on education, freed the resident village genius to have his voice heard as well.
Apply that concept to healthcare and you get a world in which patients can be educated about their bodies and become more deeply involved in their own care.
Since the dawn of healthcare, from Hippocrates to present day medicine, the model has been top down. Your doctor knows best and decides what to share with you and when. Patients were the passive recipients of the doctor’s wisdom and treatments.
Digital health technologies are changing that concept radically. With real world case studies, Dr. Topol shares keen insights from the doctor’s perspective on why that is not only a good thing, it is a fundamental step into the future of health and healing. We are breaking though assumptive barriers that patients shouldn’t be in the know.
We don’t want patients diagnosing themselves and seeking self-cure. But we do want patients to be curious and participative. Sources like WebMD, Healthtap and other sites allow patients to gather important information about their conditions and to communicate with other people with similar concerns.
With wearable technologies to monitor vital signs and functions, doctor-patient communication systems, electronic records and more, patients can now not only understand what is happening in their own bodies but can also affect their health with biofeedback mechanisms built into those systems. Our healthcare value chain is now expanding beyond primary and specialty care to include nutritionists, fitness experts & psychologists. We cannot effectively connect those dots without patients actively participating in their pre and post care.
If you only read one book on healthcare this summer, let it be one of Dr. Eric Topol’s books on how technology is pulling us closer together and why an educated patient is a more participative patient; a patient more in control of his or her own body.
Outcomes can only improve as a result.
Kevin Pereau is founder and CEO of TranscendIT Health, a boutique digital health strategy and management consulting firm located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pereau is an early pioneer of digital health; the intersection technology and healthcare. Look for his book The Digital Health Revolution this summer on Amazon.