A Paradigm Shift for the Medical Fraternity – That’s Exactly What Dr. Eric Topol Conveys in His Book, The Patient Will See You Now

Published in 2015, this not-so-new book, has some paradigm-shifting, thought provoking ideas to convey to the medical fraternity and society at large. A top 10 most cited researcher in medicine, Dr. Topol who is a practicing Cardiologist and a Professor of Genomics is an acclaimed authority in the field of medicine.

Topol claims in his book that the medical industry is facing a “Gutenberg Moment”. In essence, he compares the power of the smartphone in the field of medicine to the power of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1400’s which brought about the democratization of education and information. This process led to the masses gaining political bargaining power which in turn brought about massive changes in society where once, power resided only in the hands of the elite and the clergy. In the field of medicine, where before, power resided solely in the hands of physicians because of patients’ complete reliance on doctors coupled with being ill-informed about their medical condition due to a lack of information, the smartphone and digital infrastructure have opened the floodgates, so to speak, by disseminating information on medical conditions and products to patients. This has invariably shifted power from doctors to patients and consumers.

With greater access to medical information, patients can now diagnose themselves. For example, with certain apps, photos of skin conditions can be sent to a doctor who can offer an online diagnosis. In fact, with a smartphone, it now appears that people can test themselves for tuberculosis!

While technology has shifted power from the hands of doctors to patients, and it is therefore predicted that the demand for hospitals especially in developed countries will decrease, it is also equally, and unequivocally true, that patients are still reliant on doctors for treatment especially for serious conditions. In the area of treatment, the proverbial saying, “Follow the doctor’s orders”, still holds true.

Technology is indeed changing the face of medical practice. In view of these recent technological developments, new opportunities are emerging for doctors who wish to diversify and not remain in traditional medical practice. With industry playing a key role in these developments, it is important for physicians to seize the moment and flourish!

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