The author says that no single innovation will have a more profound effect than the conversion of biological data. With the aid of technology, Dr. Topol says, medical progress may well begin to resemble modern computers’ own astonishing surge in processing power and data storage.
“The Creative Destruction of Medicine”—an allusion to economist Joseph Schumpeter’s description of “creative destruction” as an engine of business innovation—is a venture capitalist’s delight, describing dozens of medical technologies that show great promise. The book also provides colorful anecdotes about Dr. Topol’s own sampling of these products, as both a doctor and stand-in patient.
Dr. Topol worries that doctors will resist technologies that empower patients because the tools will also diminish the doctors’ gatekeeper role. The American Medical Association, for example, battled firms that provide genetic information directly to patients. “This arrangement ultimately appears untenable,” the author writes, “and eventually there will need to be full democratization of DNA for medicine to be transformed.”
In Dr. Topol’s vision, innovation that enables real-time diagnosis and personalized treatments is a certainty, though not because reluctant or “sclerotic” doctors accept it or because Washington wills it into being. A seductive technology that works like a dream and improves lives will set off a consumer clamor, whether the new tool is an iPhone 4S or an implantable blood-sugar meter.
Many similarities with my thoughts about the assisted decision making and the unauthorized practice of law.
And I just bought the Kindle.