Physicians Can Protect the Human Connection in Medicine


We often examine strategies for prioritizing physician time at the patient bedside, using anything from medical school curriculum to technology capable of transcribing health records. In an episode of Medscape’s “Medicine and the Machine,” Stanford Medicine 25’s Abraham Verghese and Deep Medicine author Eric Topol offer a new solution explaining that at a time when medical appointments are characterized by technology, screens, and electronic health records (EHRs), doctors must come together as advocates for the human connection in medicine. Verghese says that although every provider role, hospital, and health system is different, organizing behind “a unified voice around the best values of being a physician” would leave the field with little choice but to refocus medicine back to the patient.

During the conversation, Topol reinforces the notion, noting that the human element of medicine is currently compromised because physicians are not allowed adequate time with their patients. The goal, he says, is to return to the “better state of real medicine” in which the patient-provider relationship is the “the principal objective.” Topol discusses strategic use of artificial intelligence as a tool for alleviating some administrative burden on doctors but, as agreed upon by the two podcast hosts, the system will only improve if physicians organize as a united entity working to protect their relationships with patients.

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