Remembering Doc Tom

I never knew “Doc Tom” Ferguson; he died three years ago this week, April 14, 2006. That was nine months before my diagnosis and 21 months before I discovered the movement that he founded.

That team, with later additions, is here.

Tom, I think of you often. Somehow I think you’re not the type to be resting in peace – but I’m certain you’re empowered to be doing what you want!

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7 Responses to “Remembering Doc Tom”

  1. Susannah Fox says:

    Thanks, Dave! I think of Tom often too and wonder what he would have said about all that is happening in health care.

  2. ePatientDave says:

    Remembering Doc Tom (e-patients.net founder) – died three years ago this week. Oh, what he started! http://bit.ly/SxA3U

  3. The little Distinguished Achievement Award Tom once gave me (a cute little silver robot with inscription) still stands in my office and is probably the award I am most proud of. I think he gave that award only once, to 8 people, so it MUST be something to be proud of! I often think we should continue his idea and create a Tom Ferguson Award for outstanding work in this area. Unfortunately I was never part of “the team” (too U.S.-centric?), but if I were, that’s what I would be working on.

  4. Gunther,

    we are completely on the same wavelength about the Tom Ferguson award for outstanding work in Participatory Medicine. I even proposed that not long ago. I am not a religious man and so I don’t believe Tom is looking at us from anywhere. But this award would fit very well with how to memorialize a great person and his unique vision, for the long term.

    I have another of the little robots and I’m very proud of it.

  5. Great, so what are we waiting for? Let me know how I can help. Perhaps all of his former awardees should kick in a few hundred bucks each year to come up with a modest prize, form the judging panel, and get this started. I’d be more than willing to donate money for this cause.

  6. The robot in question, Atomic Robot Man (Japan, 1948) is one of Tom’s favorites. The original is pictured on page 16 of the e-patient white paper. The awards, as I understand it, were pretty lifelike except that they were all silver-colored.

    The white paper introduction starts with a reflection by Tom on why this robot captured his attention:

    I collect old toy robots. My Atomic Robot Man robot (Japan, 1948), shown above, is a personal favorite. For many years I didn’t understand the powerful hold these dented little metal men maintained on my imagination. One day I finally got it: They show us how the culture of the 40s and 50s imagined the future. Cast-metal humanoid automatons would do the work previously supplied by human labor.

    That wasn’t how things turned out, of course. By making more powerful and productive forms of work possible, our changing technologies made older forms of work unnecessary. So instead of millions of humanoid robots laboring in our factories, we have millions of information workers sitting at computers. We didn’t just automate our earlier forms of work. It was the underlying nature of work itself that changed.

            In much the same way, we’ve been projecting the implicit assumptions of our familiar 20th Century medical model onto our unknown healthcare future, assuming that the healthcare of 2030, 2040, and 2050 will be much the same as that of 1960, 1970, and 1980. But bringing healthcare into the new century will not be merely a matter of automating or upgrading our existing clinical processes. We can’t just automate earlier forms of medical practice. The underlying nature of healthcare itself must change.”

    Those who are reading Clay Christensen’s new book The Innovator’s Prescription will recognize how prescient Tom Ferguson was when he said that.

  7. SusannahFox says:

    RT @eysenbach Time to (re-)create a Tom Ferguson Distinguished Achievement Award in Consumer Health Informatics http://is.gd/t08k

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