Jack Uldrich
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The Future of Health Care is All About Unlearning

Posted in Health Care


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 againunlearning can be a matter of life or death, literally!

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