Thursday, March 22, 2012

AMA shows true colors.

The American Medical Association basically admits doctors aren't trustworthy in a subtle admonishment about medical student's Social Networking activities. 'We need to make sure the public doesn't see what doctors do on Facebook' is the message.

I find full disclosure refreshing. The open sharing of information results in better, more mature ideas. Communication eases stress and allows communities to optimize who does what.

But people are routinely warned: the dumb shit you do on Facebook may cost you your job. Well ok, this is almost certainly true. But do we really live in such a censured society that doing something harmless will get you canned?

Well, yeah, maybe sometimes.

But this article is a good example of when digital tools allow the unintended consequence of better information- in this case, what thought leaders in the medical community really think of their peers.

They're so afraid that thoughtless medical students will drag down the public image of medicine. Well, I think the established medical paradigm is doing a fine job of that on its own.

In my own interactions with the medical community, I have found it to be money-driven to the point where help becomes less convenient the sicker a person is. This is both personal anecdote (well to determine if these illnesses are causing your crippling fatigue, we need you to drive to specialists in five places but if you're 10 minutes late you lose your appointment) and from my work (overhearing a conversation about how a doctor has to 'convince' a care facility to take on a patient because they won't 'make money' for the homecare agency- the doctor does this by threatening to withhold patients with 'valuable' diseases- the ones that have good profit margins after insurance reimbursement.

So, medicine is unfair. And a lot of people feel openness is the solution. Stop letting a system control your life. Make the invisible visible.

And I think it mostly boils down to resistance to change. People are scared of change, and they don't believe they'll benefit from trying to understand boggling complexity- they probably feel they'll never understand. But with crowdsourcing, and by leveraging computers for their strengths (rather than leveraging them for human weakness, Facebook) we could turn medicine on its head.

That's why I think HealthVault is soo freaking cool. It's a tool by Microsoft to organize and control all your medical data and track the progress of your health data. And if Microsoft starts using this data (anonymously) to determine whether a particular health regimen is effective...they could potentially start competing with a number of traditional healthcare options- and they have the clout to deal with other big companies and the FDA.

Treat diseases and illnesses on a massive scale. Become a health slactivist.

Computers in healthcare. Could they be our saving grace? Or a dangerous scapegoat?

And a footnote: The slactivism debate eerily smacks of the FDA "off-label" social media debate. In the case of social science- it opened new thought on how to better get people to think before clicking 'like', signing a petition, or donating money. The pharmaceutical industry simply complained and pulled themselves from social media. Fishy?

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