Any Sufficiently Advanced Healthcare Technology Is Indistinguishable from Natural Healing

Riffing on Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction – “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – I offer one ‘law’ for Healthcare Technology:

Any sufficiently advanced Healthcare technology is *indistinguishable* from natural healing.

Think about this.

When you take technology to its ultimate end-point – in terms of what it is we want the technology to do – we aught to *want* the care to either be natural healing or indistinguishable from it.

This requires a different kind of thinking about what health care aught to be.

This perspective does *not* mean abandoning technology. No, not at all. It means that our technologies must become so seamlessly woven into your natural origins that we return healing to its true home.

We have become accustomed to certain ways of doing things and of thinking about problems and their solutions.

Technology permeates health care – and for good reasons.

But: we must never forget the original purposes of medicine and nursing and other processes: to heal.

“Heal” is rooted in “whole”.

As the ancient Romans would say:

Naturam expellas furca, tammen usque recurret.


Is Technology Stripping Humanity Out of Healthcare?

iPad 2. EMR. Tweeting medical devices. Diseased-based social networks. Augmented surgical procedures.

Healthcare has always been a technologically-dependent field. In fact, healthcare is technology.

There is in the provision of healthcare, however, Technology’s sibling: Art.

Technology is about being. Art is about feeling.

In healthcare, technology is about being alive, while art is about feeling alive.

When a nurse or a physician is so engrossed in the technological aspect of care – auscultation is a technique and therefore a technology – that he forgets that there’s a human being before him, this is the loss of art.

If you were to work out the ultimate trend of technology in healthcare if left all to itself, you’ll see a depreciation of the need for human involvement.

But we know – intuitively – that the human brain and ear and eye bring together a certain a quality lacking in even the most advanced technologies.

That quality is art. Art is what happens when human beings express what they feel.

The ultimate “agenda” of technology is the elimination of the human. Except…

…Except that, paradoxically, humans possess the one technology which can rescue art from technology: the Question Mark.

It’s that one simple technology which has always advanced healthcare and science and civilization and…art.

Yes, technology will strip humanity out of healthcare, unless we vigilantly practice the art of the question.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter





Healthcare Problems To Discuss in 2011

We’re now more than 10% into the 21st Century. Here’s where we are in Healthcare today:

  • Most hospitals still use paper to record your most important information
  • Many of the best minds in Healthcare are nowhere to be found online – we have great ones, but we need more, more, more!
  • Doctors and nurses are getting in trouble for using iPhones in the care of their patients
  • Social Media Literacy in Healthcare – to a large extent – isn’t even at the pre-school level
  • Many providers don’t offer patients simple electronic tools and media to keep in touch
  • Facility-acquired infection rates are practically genocidal. Gen. O. Ci. Dal. Genocidal.
  • Mental Health is still called “Mental Health”, in spite of scientific evidence suggesting that the brain, not some mysterious fog, is responsible for our consciousnesses
  • Physicians are losing respect and reimbursements are declining
  • Nurses are overworked, are treated as expense items and burning out
  • Clinical collaboration is not as technologically swift as it can be
  • We treat many of our ‘elderly” like crap (sorry for the language, but it’s true)
  • Consumers continue to get bombarded by confusing and contradicting messages about health
  • Healthcare disparities continue to widen –  and still: even the rich will get screwed (again, sorry for the language, but it’s true)
  • The Life Sciences industry still doesn’t quite see itself as a provider of Healthcare solutions – today’s technology has the potential to break-down the schism between Healthcare and Pharma
  • Hospitals are still largely run on models based on the 19th Century factory
  • Domestic violence, including violence against children, still isn’t getting the attention it deserves
  • We have yet to fully understand how the ever-creeping infiltration of rapidly evolving technologies affect our health
  • The health-related data we radiate gets lost because we aren’t exploiting the technologies which could help to do that
  • The United States of America has no backup generators for Healthcare in the case of economic collapse or natural calamity

The list goes on.

Step back and re-look at the list.

Does this anger you?

Does it make ANY sense to you that this is where we are with Healthcare?

What happened? Never mind. It’s in the past.


So: what can we do now?

Not much at the top level – it’s daunting and politically frustrating. Disagree? Then go knock yourself out. 😉

We can, however, do small manageable things. Work at the local level. Persuade a hospital to change its visitation policy for the better. Take a nurse out to dinner. Eat less refined sugar.

Technology is another, especially as cost decreases as power increases:

  • Mobile
  • Social Media
  • Augmented Reality
  • Gaming
  • Clinical Collaboration Media
  • Advanced Diagnostics
  • Biomedical Advances
  • Personalized Medicine
  • Near Field Communication
  • Personal Health Records

Again, the list goes on. Things like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Simple solutions too, like mindfulness training. We’ll riff on all that too.

Technology certainly is a big part of the solutions to our problems in Healthcare.

It’s not everything. We still need to address culture, education, recruitment…politics. Ah politics.

But we can spur conversation, spark imagination, start communities, lead others and ignite new projects.

We’ll discuss them here on Health Is Social’s blog, our Twitter Pleasure Dome, in our Newsletter, on RNchat, on MDchat, at conferences, in workshops, in interviews of smart people who care about what matters.

That’s what these media are for: to make differences that matter.

Anyhoo –

Health Is Social.

Always was, always will be.

Let’s work together – here and everywhere else we work – to make Care healthy once again.


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