Doctors as diagnosticians or as advocates

There can be few professions that engage as actively as doctors must, along the spectrum of intelligence in both the analytic sense and the emotional one. On the one hand, they are scientists of many years training, determining diagnoses and writing prescriptions based on all that learning and on the evidence that presents itself. On the other: contending with the crooked timber of humanity and its foibles, imaginings and odd distempers, exercising a forgiving and fuzzy logic based as much on experience of what tends to work, as on whatever the textbooks say.

Two articles over recent days have thrown these two profiles into relief: the first in the form of a letter to the British Medical Journal from one of the UK’s famously forthright general practitioners, complaining that nagging at patients to behave responsibly is counter-productive, unappreciated and debilitating. The second is an article in the online Epoch Times, wondering at the advances of intelligent machines in the area of medical diagnostics and asking if we will soon be visiting “RoboDocs”.

Given the work already being undertaken by online diagnostic packages like Isabel Symptom Checker, VisualDx and Merge Healthcare, it would appear that the BMJ GP and thousands like her are already well on their way to some significant job re-definition. Maybe an increased focus on patient advocacy, simultaneously punching up to authority while retaining the nagging role, will help her keep her hand in.

Lively Stuff from Planet BAM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *