The integration of information technology into medicine, both today and in the future, was the topic of the latest instalment of WCM-Q’s Grand Rounds lecture series.
The talk, entitled Computing and Healthcare, was delivered by Dr Thomas Krummel, Emile Holman Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
He is also the Susan B Ford Surgeon-in-Chief at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, and a professor of cardiothoracic surgery and of bioengineering.
Speaking to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, Dr Krummel said that progress in medicine has resulted from a recurrent cycle of attracting the best candidates, providing an enriching educational environment, but most importantly adapting to change.
Since the 1960s, he said, virtually every aspect of how a surgical operation is performed has changed, and physicians have adapted their skills and knowledge to meet best practice.
These changes range from the bed that the patient lies in, to the operating room, and from the imaging technology utilised to the pharmacology used by the surgeon.
Dr Krummel also said that mankind’s most profound advancements over the last 75 years have been in the fields of computer science and biomedicine, and that over that time the two converged and are now intersecting.
This has significant implications for fields like professional development and lifelong learning.
Dr Krummel said: “For continuing medical education, there is unlimited access to acquire almost any information you want, because you essentially have a supercomputer in your pocket in the shape of a cellphone.”
Information technology is also having a huge impact on medical education through virtual reality and simulation, predictive modelling, and visualisation.
Dr Krummel predicted that not only would they be used for the selection and training of surgeons, but surgeons would eventually be able to practice operations on a patient-specific hologram, before conducting the surgery in the physical world.
“Ubiquitous computing will revolutionise medical education and patient care as much as computing has revolutionised everything else in life,” he added.
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