Will doctors’ offices disappear?
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Catherine Ho poses two provocative and fascinating questions: Will the doctor’s office soon become obsolete? And is that a good thing? “The growth of telemedicine (video chats with your doctor) and tools to track chronic diseases (wearable glucose-monitoring devices for diabetics) is inching us toward a time when medical care and diagnoses can be accessed from afar, and often without having to see a physician in person,” Ho writes. She also points to direct-to-consumer genetic tests and gene therapy as giant steps in that direction.
Google and Amazon might even diagnose patients someday
Big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are harnessing artificially intelligent cloud services to perform some of the work that’s always been done by physicians, according to Bloomberg. “The companies are testing, and in some cases marketing, AI software that automates mundane tasks, including data entry; consulting work like patient management and referrals; and even diagnostic elements of highly skilled fields such as pathology,” Mark Bergern writes.
Pouches deactivate dangerous drugs
Granite Health, a partnership of hospitals in New Hampshire, has received a grant to help stem the opioid tide with three steps that are simple and easily adaptable for health care providers around the country. The Associated Press reports that the grant will pay for “takeout boxes” for people to easily dispose of unused drugs. In addition, when surgery patients are given an opioid prescription, they will also receive “deactivation pouches” so the drugs can be safely disposed of at home. And clinicians will be educated in opioid use, with training customized for post-surgical and chronic pain prescribing.
Bigots as patients
Lachelle Dawn Weeks provides troubling and heartfelt insights into what it’s like for physicians of ethnic or other minority groups to care for patients who subtly — and sometimes not so subtly — display racist or otherwise bigoted behavior. “Particularly at this time when some Americans feel emboldened to speak and act in bigoted ways, clinicians need support managing patients who make derogatory and abusive remarks,” she writes in Stat. She calls for hospitals to consider new policies to support minority staff in dealing with such patients.