Data-Driven Physician – 2020 Stanford Med Health Report

In a field now awash with data and technologies, physicians are preparing for the transformation of patient care, according to the 2020 Health Trends Report, The Rise of the Data-Driven Physicianpublished by Stanford Medicine. The report documents key trends steering the healthcare’s future, including an emerging digital health market, new laws opening patient access to data, and artificial intelligence gaining regulatory traction for medical use. If you think about technology, doctors and the changing state of medicine, you need to check it out.

Driving by data comes with a cost

The title is interesting because doctors have always been data-driven. It’s just that we were driven by small amounts of data. Now there’s more data about more things. So I guess that qualifies us as ‘rising.’

For sure the concept of a data-driven physician reflects what I see in the clinical setting – we are interacting more with the data coming from patients than the patients themselves. I believe that this reductionist tendency is one of the key forces separating doctor and patient from one another. This is not a repudiation of precision medicine, just an observation that being data-driven rather than patient or human-driven comes with a certain cost that we must weigh.

Reconciling the pieces of the 2020 Health Trends Report

I found some of the findings hard to reconcile. For example, the majority of responders were positive about how their medical education had prepared them for a data-driven, tech-mediated future. This clashes with the sparse attention to these issues in medical school curricula as well as what I hear directly from new grads during discussions about disruptive technology. Respondents also felt that only a third of what they do would be replaced by automation in the next 20 years. I suspect they’ll need to adjust their expectations going forward.

A future more human-centric than data-driven?

In future annual reports I would like to see the Stanford School of Medicine explore the changing face of human connection between doctor and patient. How do doctors perceive the human connection evolving in the clinical space? What about patient input on the rise of the data-driven physician? Of course, sussing out the softer elements of medicine in a simple survey might bring some challenges. But I feel that attention to these issues might offer important balance to what is evolving as an important industry report.

Congratulations to Dean Lloyd Minor and his team at Stanford School of Medicine for offering a fresh look at our ‘State of Medicine’ as it faces a very different future.

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Image via Franck V on Unsplash