My friends at MedGagdet have been doing a bang up job of covering the recent health care conference at TED. I invite you to review the proceedings from Day 2. The one thing that struck me is how — although unstated — the theme of unlearning underlies so many of the talks.
For example, the first speaker addressed how new virtual reality tools and high-speed digital/Internet connections may soon make "surgical collaboration" the new norm and lead to better surgical outcomes for patients — provided that is today's surgeons can unlearn their "go-it-alone" style. The second speaker discussed why the current paradigm for diagnosing cancer (i.e. tissue-based diagnosis) may soon give way to more precise molecular diagnosis. Next, Aubrey de Grey talked about why aging should be viewed as a disease and not something that is inevitable. (I've written about this topic before and if de Grey is correct it will unleash a wave of unlearning.) Finally, Eric Dishman provided a glimpse of a new home-based health care delivery system.
My point is this: The technological advances which are driving these changes are real and they portend a better health care future for all of us. Unless leading professionals are willing to unlearn their current paradigms, however, many of these benefits will be unnecessarily delayed.
I have said it before and I will say it again — unlearning can be a matter of life or death, literally!