Physician Heal Thyself

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This story of conflict between innovators and established professionals in an industry is a useful illustration of some of the disruptive changes we are about to see in the health sector when the …

This story of conflict between innovators and established professionals in an industry is a useful illustration of some of the disruptive changes we are about to see in the health sector when the medical profession fight against technology innovations which improve public health but threaten their existing practices. What the medical profession is about to experience is akin to what has already happened in many industries, including my own previous business presentation company which for many years was a leader in corporate presentation design and production but was eventually overtaken by the way in which a combination of Microsoft PowerPoint and Data Projectors that empowered my clients to look after their own presentations in-house. This change to my industry took place around 20 years ago and undoubtedly reduced the cost and development time of corporate presentations. The innovations were costly to industry professionals like myself but the new business models for corporate presentations were an inevitable consequence of technological innovations that empowered the end user.

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  • 1. Physician Heal Thyself.... Attending the East Midlands Medilink Conference on Innovation held in Leicester last week, one of the keynote speakers, Mark McIntyre, a Senior Director at Boston Scientific, told a story which resonated with me and gave an insight into an important and costly problem with the medical profession and society. Mark McIntyre of Boston Scientific at Medilink He was speaking about a specialist treating patients with circulatory problems where their condition often results in amputation of the limb. This specialist had dedicated himself successfully to interventions which avoided amputation because he believed (thankfully) that patients prefer to keep their limbs. His increasing success with his patients led to a visit from the surgeon specialising in amputations at the hospital who complained that the specialist was "doing him out of a job". This story of conflict between innovators and established professionals in an industry is a useful illustration of some of the disruptive changes we are about to see in the health sector when the medical profession fight against technology innovations which improve public health but threaten their existing practices. What the medical profession is about to experience is akin to what has already happened in many industries, including my own previous business presentation company which for many years was a leader in corporate
  • 2. presentation design and production but was eventually overtaken by the way in which a combination of Microsoft PowerPoint and Data Projectors that empowered my clients to look after their own presentations in-house. This change to my industry took place around 20 years ago and undoubtedly reduced the cost and development time of corporate presentations. The innovations were costly to industry professionals like myself but the new business models for corporate presentations were an inevitable consequence of technological innovations that empowered the end user. We are about to witness the same thing in the health sector as wearable sensor technologies and mobile applications empower people to understand and manage their own health with support from non-medical professionals and community peers. Just as those who have been affected by technological advances throughout history, the profession who is sworn to prioritise the health and well-being of their customers is finding itself trying to resist the tsunami of change. My wish is that those medical professionals who can embrace the opportunities for better health care these developments will bring will support and shape the innovations that have the potential to prevent some of the global health issues we will otherwise have to face as a society.