By automation I don't mean just streamlining patient information into compatible computerized systems. The article mentions computers as doctors, middle class labor replacing skilled doctors for exams (and reporting their findings to the previously mentioned computer doctor...), and high tech devices to constantly monitor our health stats.
I say my reaction was odd because I had a series of very different reactions.
One of my first reactions was "cool." Because people like my Grandma, who strive to be completely med free even after bypass surgery and who tend to prematurely go off of their blood pressure medication, can do so while having their blood pressure monitored not only by self monitoring but also by a medical professional. And obviously it would be beneficial to have medical records streamlined. I know most of you are probably shocked by this reaction, but I am neither anti-tech or anti-doctor. I am just against either of them being used excessively or irresponsibly and without thought and research on the part of the consumer/patient.
Which leads me to my next reaction- "wow, it's like medical big brother." They mentioned vests that monitor most of our basic bodily functions, monitors that can tell if and when we take prescribed medicine, and other specific monitors for heart function, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. While these could be beneficial for people already trying to manage chronic health problems and even be useful in lessening the dependance on medication and monitoring the effectiveness of dietary and lifestyle changes, it would only do so in individuals driven to do so. I fear that in others with chronic illness and in people who may be borderline or "at risk" this type of constant monitoring would only lead to MORE interventions and MORE medications. Take the prescription monitoring bit- yes, it would be beneficial in that it would help remind those who actually need antibiotics to finish the round, making them less likely to succumb to future infections and less likely to spawn antibiotic resistant strains. BUT what if a doctor prescribes antibiotics and the patient chooses not to take them. What would happen then? Would the doctor refuse to treat that patient further, as some doctors do now when parents choose to not vaccinate or limit/delay vaccinations? How much control over our own medical care would we loose?
And my last reaction was "really, this probably won't affect me much." In fact, I had thoughts that this might drive even more people towards more natural care providers. If we reach the point where our care is so streamlined that we either don't deal with a person or deal with technically trained intermediaries whose sole job is to examine and report, we will begin to crave the connection with a real person, one who knows us, knows our medical history, and knows their field. This will drive more and more people to Midwives, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Herbalists, and Chiropractors. Even now, without this technology, more and more people are choosing natural health care practitioners because of that connection- take prenatal care, for example. The average OB spends 5-15 minutes with a patient at each exam. The typical midwife spends at least 30 minutes with each patient, often more, especially on an initial consult.
I know this is a loaded question, but what do you think?