Future Health 2/15/18

Delivering care in the new virtual world...
Considering Automation of Health Care Delivery - In the last several months there have been a number of articles appearing in various journals and newspapers on "the future of work". These articles focus on the impact of robotics, machine learning, automated delivery, artificial intelligence and the like. The advocates for these technologies point toward "transformative changes" that will be derived from the deployment and implementation of these new tools. I'm one of those advocates. But, what gets lost in the debate is not "what" but "how soon?" Some of these technologies will be disruptive over the next several years. Others will not come to fruition for a couple of decades.
In the last several months, I have advocated that we need to seriously reconsider the scope of training we provide our future health care providers. For example, we are clearly moving in a very rapid way toward the use of "virtual" technologies for the delivery of care. In the same breath, I will argue that the skills, talents and knowledge required for providing virtual care is different than that provided in in-person environments. What do I mean? The nuance of communication, the detection of subtle signs, the inflection of voice, the comparative data analysis to other patients with similar problems are but a few of the markers where in today's world health care students get very little, if any, training. These types of skills will become essential - even at a rudimentary level - in the not too distant future. So, do we need to reconsider how we train our future work force? I think so...  More on this topic in the future.
More On CRISPR - The advances in health care derived from the use of CRISPR are occurring at an incredibly rapid pace. New companies seem to spring up on almost a daily basis using CRISPR-based therapeutic approaches. The intent is to "solve" problems by "fixing" the genetic errors in our DNA. One example that I've been following is from CRISPR Therapeutics, Inc. based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company recently submitted a request to the European Union oversight body for permission to start a new trial on beta thalassemia (an inherited blood disorder) The company uses CRISPR technology to edit the thalassemia gene and fix the defect...permanently. Assuming the technology works - and, all the indicators are that it will - they can initiate a trial using the same methodologies for treating sickle-cell disease, a far more prevalent blood disorder. Some would say we are in the "hype cycle" for this technology. It will not be the panacea, but it will have a massive impact on certain diseases. This technology is going to totally reshape our approach to care delivery over the next decade. Mark my word...
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