The Scientist vs. The Doctor

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Our ever-growing technological society has seen the doctor that used to make house calls, now often rarely even make appointments on time.  We are relying more and more on computers to diagnose illnesses, and many people see this as a huge source of disconnected between patients and medical professionals. 

Obviously, we want to create a connection between the patient and the doctor, and a holistic approach to medicine has much more benefits than treating a patient based on materialistic or scientific studies.

But is it so bad to use computers and technology more and more to help someone get better?

The Traditional Argument

A recent article in The New York Times that was presented in my philosophy of sport class, makes an argument that medical health professionals are relying too much on CT scans, and less on treating the patient. 

It fails to recognize that the two are connected, interwoven and should be indistinguishable for any experienced doctor health professional such as those in my future profession, physical therapy.

The article takes a facetious attitude toward a patient with liver failure, talking about a super computer that could link that patients symptoms with others around the nation, and find common sources to their ailments.  It makes computers sound over-complicated and unnecessary, and that such a diagnoses would be unnecessary, distracting a doctor from the person.

Why can't our advancements serve to increase the knowledge a doctor has?  Why can't a computer and advanced diagnoses technology be another tool in a doctor's toolbox?  It doesn't have to keep a doctor from approaching an illness holistically. 

In fact, wouldn't a holistic approach take ALL information into consideration, before deciding which information is of most value?  Who decides when technology has "done enough already" and says that a doctor shouldn't continue to explore Research Studies for possible sources of illnesses?

effects of exercise smaller.jpg
Figure 1.  The effects of not exercising throughout a lifetime.  Any drug that is meant to simulate exercise must account for all effects listed.

My Argument

I want my doctor to know as much about my illness as possible.  After he knows it, however, I want him/her to know me.  I want him/her to make an INFORMED decision about how to treat me.

Where does technology fit into that?  It is everything a doctor should focus on before he walks into the doctors office to treat me.  Go ahead and put my symptoms into a super-computer, look up my problems in some text-book.

My parents know me and understand me holistically.... but I don't want them writing my prescriptions or treating my illnesses.  Technology is information, and information is always good.  Ignorance is NOT bliss for the cancer patient awaiting "holistic treatment" from a doctor ignoring the latest research.

The Real Problem

....Is not more technology.  The real problem is when technology is used as a crutch instead of a tool.  A physical therapist that ignores a patients family history or stress levels that may influence their injury is the problem.

This problem could be due to too much technology overloading the physical therapist, or it could be that they are just an idiot.  Just like in determining what is wrong with a patient, you should not narrow down what is wrong with a doctor/physical therapist to one thing.

Take a holistic approach when you try to find out why a physical therapist/doctor is not paying enough attention to you.  Maybe it's too much technology, or maybe its something else. Just like when you treat a patient, the problems of health care professionals are probably not from one source either.

The Real Solution

Treat your patients using as much information as you can gather.  Embrace technology, don't hide behind it. If a new machine comes out that can help you diagnose a patient, USE IT!  Anything that can be put into a doctor's toolbox to treat a patient should not be disregarded just because it's new.

Then, once you have all the scientific information you can muster, be a doctor.  Care about your patient and use that information to treat them.  Knowledge is never the problem, it is only misguided knowledge that leads to a doctor-patient disconnect.


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