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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000092
Commentaries

Why Physicians Need to Be More Than Automated Medical Kiosks

Bynum, William MD

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Abstract

The last 20 years have seen an unprecedented technological revolution, including the development of the personal computer. The new technologies that have emerged during this age of innovation have allowed human beings to connect widely with one another through electronic media and have made life more efficient and streamlined. Likewise, this technological renaissance has helped to define medicine as one of the most innovative professions by providing physicians with diagnostics and interventions that are more accurate, efficacious, and safe, to the benefit of physicians and the public. However, in both life and the practice of medicine, these new technologies have had the unintended consequence of reducing the value of direct human connection and threaten to isolate individuals in spite of advancing society.

In this commentary, the author argues that human beings need to make a more concerted effort to connect with each other through both enhanced communication technologies and direct human contact. Likewise, leaders in medicine need to embrace and promote technological advancement while at the same time working to maintain the human connection that physicians have with their patients and teaching learners to do the same. Doing so will prevent physicians from becoming automated medical kiosks that offer sound, innovative medical advice but that lack the personality, compassion, and emotion that will lead to better health.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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