How Technology May Lead to Greater Human Connection at the Bedside
Could the machine be the catalyst that brings us back to the bedside? It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s one theory Stanford Medicine 25’s John Kugler shared in this Medscape interview: Bedside Medicine: Why It's Still Vital, to Patients and Physicians.
“The state of the bedside exam is really in peril,” Kugler states, referring to the current disconnect being noted between physicians and patients. He worries that health care is focusing less on the importance of the bedside exam and focusing more on technological advances. The difficulty, Kugler is finding, is teaching students to focus on the human connection because of how seductive technology can be. It not only helps save time (and sometimes money) but also provides data that is impossible to gain otherwise.
Ironically though, as Kugler tells Medscape reporter Gabriel Miller, technology could also be the answer to bringing back the bedside exam in a meaningful way. He states, “When I think about the future of bedside medicine, I think that the computer age, and really the machine-learning age, is actually going to refocus us on our human skills.”
As technology like AI and machine learning are able to do more in terms of analysis, humans will be called into play for what they do best: physical exams and communication. This dynamic, says Kugler, will provide “a huge amount of professional satisfaction,” since it’s rewarding for physicians not only to get a diagnosis right in a physical exam but also to establish stronger connections with patients.
Humility is an underappreciated skill in a time of global budgets, evidenced based approaches, and cost-containment. The bright, well-read, talented medical students who may lack humility are not uncommon.
Patient-centered care is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement on Health Care. As such, healthcare institutions are strongly focusing on the patient-physician relationship and the patient experience.
The editor-in-chief of Medscape, Dr. Eric Topol, visited Stanford to sit down and do an interview with our Dr. Vergese for the Medscape One-on-One online video series.
Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, spoke of the rise and fall of the medical authority in the doctor patient office encounter in his many scholarly articles. With the internet becoming the “elephant in the doctor’s office,” the dynamic of medical authority has certainly changed…