Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is this the future of medicine? Is this the future of doctors?

The DSP's daily commute has been pure bliss this past week because I have been listening to A Whole New Mind.  In a nutshell, Mr Pink asserts that you better figure out how to use both your left brain (analytical, sequential) and your right brain (synthesizes big picture, sees things in patterns).  If you only use your left brain, you are in jeopardy of being replaced by either a computer, or somebody able and willing to do your left brain job for 1/5 of the compensation you require.

What does this have to do with a patient getting in the driver's seat?  Admittedly, it is only tangentially related (I am trying to exercise my right brain here).  But I'll give it a shot:

1)  Skin Scan is an app that analyzes skin lesions before you go to the doctor's office (at this point, it is not intended to replace the physician's visit) going to replace some of the left brain tasks that doctors are doing eventually.  (Consider that TurboTax has likely replaced a lot of accountants.)  This may be a glimpse into the future of medicine.  If Skin Scan disagreed with your doctor's assessment of your lesion, would you seek a second opinion?

2)  It is easier to be a patient if you have a job, and so if you think you are currently only using your left brain in your career, you would benefit from reading (or listening to, if you are an audio learner like me) A Whole New Mind, as it has a primer for developing your right brain.

Monday, August 29, 2011

3 magical questions

The DSP blog has recommended patients consider the Ask Me 3 approach when at the doctor (Ask Me 3). But I think those three questions (1. What is my main problem?  2. What do I need to do?  3. Why is it important for me to do this?) might stifle the discussion a bit.

While I hate to admit this, because it apparently has originated from England, I think some researchers at Cardiff and the Vale University Board (whatever that is) might have come up with 3 better questions:  

1.  What are my options?  
2.  What are the possible benefits and risks of those options?  
3.  How likely are the benefits and risks of each option to occur?

Are you going to the doctor soon and at risk for a prostate exam?  Ask your doctor these questions about your options re prostate screening, and tell me how well they work.    

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Friends don't let friends have a prostate exam uninformed

While I definitely would not let this "doctor"  examine my prostate, I applaud CBS for this educational video for several reasons:  it is almost as funny as this doctor (does anybody know if he's still taking new patients) and is as accurate as this guy (talk about doctors who only use their left side of their brain) without being such a bore.

Dr Schloffengut's message essentially boils down to this: if you're a man over 50, talk to your doctor about whether or not you need a prostate exam.   Is Dr Schloffengut recommending talk therapy for the prostate?  Hardly.  He is recommending that men talk to their doctor before diving into a prostate exam (does that sound wrong), not only because it is always a good idea to talk to letting any doctor plunge a finger into any of your orifices, but because the decision to try to screen for prostate cancer simply isn't a slam dunk.

In a nutshell:  some men may benefit from prostate cancer screening, and some may be harmed by prostate cancer screening, and it is not entirely easy to sort it all out.  Consequently--before men consent to this graceless experience (unless Lou Rawls is your doctor), they deserve to partake in a discussion and share in the decision about whether this will benefit them.  

His recommendation is consistent with that from the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation.