SMART MEDICINE by William Hanson


How the Changing Role of Doctors Will Revolutionize Health Care
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Hanson (The Edge of Medicine, 2009), Chief of Intensive Care at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, dissects the past, present and future of health care.

Avatars that converse with patients, diagnose illness and schedule appointments might sound like science fiction, but, as the author writes, one such model has already been pioneered by Microsoft Research. While human interaction will not be rendered obsolete, Hanson makes an interesting case for technology’s role in effective medicine via innovations such as automated smart alarms and virtual stroke diagnosis. From primitive practices and medical disputes in colonial America to the “Marcus Welby” era when one doctor—usually a male in a tie—guarded illegible patient paperwork, health care has evolved into today’s diverse array of physicians and sleep-deprived interns, with an emphasis on teamwork and shared records. Some superfluity slows the narrative flow—e.g., a brief history of dog breeds makes the point that there are many medical specialties—and even the most technologically challenged reader can comprehend why cell-phone wielding doctors no longer struggle with the bulky Physicians’ Desk Reference. However, illuminating and even alarming information abounds, as when Hanson cites a 2009 New England Journal study in reporting that “only 1.5 percent of U.S. hospitals had a comprehensive records system present in all units.” Readers shouldn’t expect a health-care reform debate, but rather a glimpse of the future, complete with many upbeat possibilities.

A thought-provoking look at technology’s role in modern health care.


Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-230-62115-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2011


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