Dr. Smartphone


The NYT had an interesting read about the use of technology in medicine. Given that we were required to buy iPads before coming to med school, I found it really relevant. (The iPad ended up being a glorified way to check my email and fact-check during class.) But I can imagine a smartphone being useful on the wards for the very reasons discussed in the article: being able to calculate values quickly, being able to reference UptoDate anytime you want, and as the Think Like a Doctor case shows, being able to look up common causes of conditions to try to make a differential.

Abraham Verghese has made a brilliant case for making the physical exam the centerpiece of medical education. In so doing, he argues that technology threatens to distance physicians from patients, to cut the humanity out of medicine. There is some truth to what he says, but I don’t like this argument because it refers back to the “touchy feely vs. technical” debate, which in turn goes back to the Two Cultures, which is an unproductive way to think. Instead, we should be thinking about ways that technology–all sorts of technology, not just the newest bells and whistles from Pfizer or Medtronic–can improve medicine and add to the fundamentals that we learn about in training.


About the friendly intern

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