April 18, 2009

Transformation of Medicine and Biotechnology

We are making that inexorable move toward medicine informed by biotechnology and enabled by a common (hopefully), sharable, individual, digital medical record. This is the so-called third revolution in biotechnology and medicine following the description of DNA by Watson and Crick 50 years ago and the identification of the human genome 10 years ago.

The Economist describes it all in
this story ending with:

"The coming convergence of biology and engineering will be led by information technologies, which in medicine means the digitisation of medical records and the establishment of an intelligent network for sharing those records. That essential reform will enable many other big technological changes to be introduced.

Just as important, it can make that information available to the patients too, empowering them to play a bigger part in managing their own health affairs. This is controversial, and with good reason. Many doctors, and some patients, reckon they lack the knowledge to make informed decisions. But patients actually know a great deal about many diseases, especially chronic ones like diabetes and heart problems with which they often live for many years. The best way to deal with those is for individuals to take more responsibility for their own health and prevent problems before they require costly hospital visits. That means putting electronic health records directly into patients’ hands"

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