A physician friend once shared his belief that the main product of a physician’s productivity is the diagnosis. Setting aside feelings about the notion of a work product in medicine, I’ve quite liked the simplicity of his distillation. The diagnosis is the economic enabler which leads to tests, prescriptions, treatments, interventions and counseling.
So, what happens when patients can make their own diagnoses with the same, or better, accuracy?
That’s the question Innovation Hub Radio tackles in this week’s episode:
Question: What do insulin pumps, at-home pregnancy tests, and space medicine have in common?Answer: They can be administered without a doctor, and they might be the future of medicine.
—Innovation Hub Radio, WGBH
The recent dialogue about autonomy on this blog suggests moving more tools into the hands of patients is something many SPM members see as desirable. Further, one of SPM’s founders and past president, Alan Green, is helping Scanadu build what’s being touted as the medical tricorder. So certainly, these kinds of hard questions are in our DNA.
To that end, what happens to the patient-physician dynamic when the patient, not the physician, makes the diagnosis? Are there limits, technology aside, to what should be diagnosed at home? What responsibilities to patients have to themselves and their greater community when a diagnosis is made at home? And, to my friend’s comment about work product, what role do physicians play for patients who self diagnose accurately in the home?