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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Expert: Health Care Is Exploding

When a member of the tekkie community meets with members of the medical community, the meddies are bound to feel the “fud-factor” , shorthand for fear, uncertainty and doubt.

At least that’s the view from the tekkie community.

High-tech visionary Jane Metcalfe, co-founder of San Francisco-based Wired magazine, said while new ideas can be scary, it’s important to overcome the “fud-factor.”

It was hard to miss Metcalfe at last week’s 73rd annual Medical Group Management Association conference, with her European attire , open platform shoes, metallic-blue painted toe nails and a shimmering pants suit. A captivating speaker, she mesmerized the audience at the San Diego Convention Center with her seemingly far-out ideas on health care’s future.

For instance, her view that Internet-savvy travelers have already embraced the idea of bidding for travel at priceline.com.

Users Growing

Today, 36 percent of Internet users use the medium to get health care information about such things as nutrition, exercise, disease, and drugs, Metcalfe said.

“In the future, if doctors refuse to give patients a drug, they may just go on priceline.com and buy it,” she said.

Metcalfe said consumers will be able to bid on the Internet for prescription drugs , even surgeries.

No doubt, access to the Internet’s wealth of information has led to an unprecedented empowerment of consumers, she said.

Metcalfe said such empowerment is not without risks. Ethical issue pertaining to drug advertising over the Internet are being examined, she said.

“Nowadays, patients use the Internet to self-diagnose themselves (and to) tell doctors what kinds of drugs they want, because they have been seduced by a pharmaceutical firm’s advertisement.”

In the future, patients will be the gatekeepers of their medical records and give out information on a need-to-know basis, Metcalfe said.

This may backfire when patients opt to leave out vital information, causing a doctor’s diagnosis to be inaccurate, she said, adding that the doctor-patient relationship will change.

She said the Internet will become the doctor’s office where patients are virtually diagnosed and virtually monitored.

In rural America where patients sometimes live hours away from specialists, telemedicine is already a reality.

The New Economy

Where will this all go?

Metcalfe predicts a “new economy” where abundance, not scarcity, will be of value. The more members that are added, the more valuable the network will be.

In 1998, the Internet community spent $75 billion on E-commerce, from buying books to airline tickets.

In 2002, some predict E-commerce will skyrocket to $1.3 trillion.

For those who are still contemplating the fud-factor, Metcalfe quotes another tekkie, who said: ” When a new technology rolls over you, you’re either a part of the steamroller or the road.”


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