Sunday, December 30, 2012

High Tech-High Touch- High HIT
Whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response – that is, high touch –or the technology is rejected.  The more high tech, the more high touch.
John Naisbitt, “From Forced Technology to High Tech/High Touch,” Megatrends, 1982
The limits and shortcomings of Big Data technology are building. Listening to the data is important, but so is experience and intuition.  After all, what is information at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through the human brain rather than a math model?
Steve Lohr, “Sure, Big Data is Great, But So Is intuition,” New York Times, December 30, 2012
December 30, 2012 – Periodically, I review my blog’s “hits” – reader clicks  - to see what interests people
By far, the greatest number of hits are on a May 9, 2010 post, “Americans and Their Medical Machines.” It opened with this paragraph,
Obsession with medical technologies and machines characterizes American’s cultural expectations. We tend to think of our bodies as perpetual motion machines, to be preserved in perpetuity. If the face of our machines sag, we lift our faces up. If our pipes clog, we roto- rooter them out or stent them. If impurities gum up our machinery, we filter them out. If our joints give out or lock up, we replace them. If we want to remove something in the machine’s interior, we take it out through a laparoscope. If the fuel or metabolic mix is wrong, we alter the mix or correct the metabolic defect with drugs If anything else goes wrong, we diagnose it and rearrange it electronically.”
Over the last 20 years,  a new phenomonon – high HIT – has been added to the cultural landscape mix.   HIT stands for “High Information Technology.” HIT also parades under the name of “Big Data.”   With HIT and Big Data, we have come to expect we can define trends, outcomes, and efficiencies and what works best for our society.  Numeric collectivism, a high information society,  is replacing individual choice and intuitivism.  HIT is said to be a smarter way to conduct health care - smarter, better, more efficient, with superior decision-making.
"Hot" HIT Trends

If I read the literature right, the top ten “hot” HIT trends are these.
1.       Continuing growth of electronic health records as the source of Big Data

2.      Tablets everywhere  with everyone connected intimately to high tech solutions 

3.      Pressure to carry devices on part of everyone in the various health care sectors for instant information for health care betterment
4.  Mounting fear of cybersecurity threats with endangerment of personal privacy 

5.      Ubiquitous apps for every health care consumer for every imaginable condition 

6.      Point-of-care technologies for every patient and every doctor with less reliance on personal intuition and experience 

7.      Molecular genomic (DNA) imaging and sequencing for predictive, precision, and curative purposes 

8.      Neuroscience devices to ease, assist, and even cure neurological disorders 

9.      Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to repair injuries and even grow new organs

10.   Robots to improve surgical and medical  outcomes
Counterbalancing Trends

No doubt,  high-tech- high HIT is useful and powerful.   But it is not, in many cases of human health care, the final solution.  It will not solve the inevitability and decline of aging and chronic diseases that accompany aging.    It will not end violence or destructive behavior. It will not eliminate mental illness or diabilities.
What will the counterbalancing high-touch responses?
My top nine high-touch candidates are:
1)      More home care, self-care, assisted care, and companion-care
2)      More integrative care centers, and alternative medical care,  particularly for diseases like cancer or end-stage neurological disorders

3)      More hospice care, as we acknowledge that pain-free comfort is important as death approaches

4)      More decentralized care , outside of hospital and institutions

5)      More telemedicine related  and monitored care, as people seek to combine high tech and humanism and convenience 

6)      More online and offline support groups and matching services, more searches for human togetherness 

7)      More retreats to simpler medical practices, such as concierge and cash-only practices, retail clinics, with and without high-tech devices

8)      More “personal care” with more concern about personal privacy 

9)   More escapes from care settings where the emphasis is on data gathering and aggregation.

Tweet:  Will widespread web-browsing, clever computer algorithms, and Big Data analysis replace doctor-patient relationships? Doubts are growing.

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