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Cultural Event: Tele-Medicine with Dr. Jay Sanders

I went to the lecture on telemedicine with Dr. Jay Sanders. Ironically one of the first things he said was “If there’s anything you remember from this lecture, don’t call it telemedicine, or tele-anything, it’s simply medicine.” The basic idea of telemedicine is being able to have a doctor make a house call without literally having to go to your house but by connecting to you via television. But more importantly this would help people be able to see specialists who live far away without having to travel or pay for travel. The essential idea is bringing the examination room to the patient. Interestingly enough, this concept also allows doctors to see what kind of home environment their patients are living in. Dr. Sanders told one story about a woman who repeatedly suffered from severe asthma attacks. While on video with her from her home, doctors saw that she had a big fluffy rug, a cat, a large old dusty chair, and a husband who smoked. All of which are irritants for asthma. If she had gone into the doctor’s office like most of us do, the doctor would have never known that those were affecting her.

Video Robot Doctor

I found this lecture to be very interesting. I wasn’t bored at all. So far, this has been my favorite cultural event. I heard so much new information about modern medicine that I’d never known about before. Dr. Sanders told us about how smartphones can now have apps that allow them to be used as fairly reliable medical scanners. He compared it to a “tricorder” from Star Trek. Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I was excited.

Dr. Sanders brought up an interesting point about patients’ blood pressures. He discussed how often times people’s blood pressure will be higher in the actual office because of nerves but if they can just take the blood pressure from home, the patient won’t be as nervous. He also said that it would be possible to it bring a collective expertise of practitioners to the patient’s bedside.

Dr. Sanders covered some very interesting topics and it made me interested in the future of medicine and what’s going to happen in my lifetime. It seems like there will be a shift from dependency on doctors to a stronger dependency on ourselves to take care of us. Now that we can have the technology in our phones, it will be much easier to evaluate ourselves and see if we are healthy or not. He said “we must encourage, expect, and require patients to be their own primary care provider.”He went on to say that we always find someone else to blame for our health problems but that we rarely “point the finger at ourselves.”

At the end he brought up another ironic point; he said that the top two reasons for death in the world are obesity and starvation. It’s crazy how ironic that fact is.  I felt like I learned many new things from this lecture and I feel much more aware of what’s going on now in the field of medicine. It’s been a long time since I thought about doctors, and I think that’s one of the points he was trying to make. He said “we must migrate from a system based on episodic or periodic evaluation to one that provides continuous assessment.”

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