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Technology Undermining Doctors’ Confidence in their own abilities: Study

Panel-Discussion
  • 82 percent doctors felt stripped of their ability to care.
  • 66 percent doctors reported trouble sleeping, while 58 percent have marital problems.
  • 53 per cent of 18-34 year olds felt that in future technology will replace doctors.

The ubiquitous social media, fast-paced technologies that are replacing men with machines, high volume and growing expectations from empowered patients are changing the landscape of not just medicine and healthcare, but also doctors who are increasingly finding themselves in unfamiliar territories.

Panel-Discussion

A global study done by McCann Health found that doctors find themselves at a crossroad with technology, lack of time and pressure from patients `briefed’ by social media driving them to a world of uncertainty and frustration. The tectonic plates of medicine, healthcare and patient expectations are surely on a fast-forward.

The study titled `Truth About Doctors’, the results of which were announced today in a press conference at J W Marriott, Mumbai , entailed interviews with nearly 2000 doctors globally across 16 markets and was jointly conducted by McCann Health and McCann Truth Central, two units of the global McCann World group marketing services firm.

The Health & wellness ecosystem is transforming at an amazing pace with the technological evolution, knowledge seems to be the key driver for the patients today. Doctors remain at the center of this emerging health & wellness ecosystem. A better understanding of these dynamics and the impact on how Doctors see them will help us deliver much better solutions, said Prasoon Joshi, Chairman McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, CEO & CCO McCann Worldgroup India.

The study found that 53% doctors interviewed felt time as their most valuable resource. Medicine has changed from a caring business to a business of care. 82 percent of doctors around the world see ‘providing care’ as their primary role in society. However, these same doctors felt stripped of their ability to care by the commercial system.

As doctors the world over reported feeling a loss of power, it was no surprise that “frustration” was one of the top words listed in relation to the profession. That shows itself in doctors’ personal lives: 66 percent reported trouble sleeping, while 58 percent have marital problems. Doctors once had time to develop a relationship with a patient, but that’s been hijacked by an overwhelming volume of patients, especially in India where the doctor to patient ratio is abysmally lopsided.

The expectations from patients have also sky-rocketed, thanks to social media. Doctors are no longer considered gods in white. Disgruntled relatives are known to physically attack doctors for failing to care for a family member. They are assaulted and hospital equipment damaged. Doctors also feel stripped of their ability to care by a demanding and commercial system,” added Dr. Harshit Jain,  Marketing Director (Asia Pacific) & Country Head (India) .

The survey threw up a big surprise on the front of technology. A whopping 53% of 18-34 year olds felt that in the future technology will replace doctors. The group was of the view that at some point of time, doctors would be redundant.

Amid a massive technological tsunami, doctors around the globe are finding themselves caught in a storm in unfamiliar territory. Disruption being order of the day, doctors are being threatened by cognitive technology and disease specific artificial intelligence.

But there is a flip side too. An overload of data and a deluge of information often confuse the patient. Here, doctors have the skill to interpret data for the patients and blend technology with care. Partnering with patients through humaneness and using technology skilfully would be the future. Doubling down on humanness will be the magic in how doctors drive better outcomes.

“How society sees doctors has changed immensely over the last few years. This change in perception, driven by increased privatization has put pressure on the Doctors just in India but all over the world. Technology while helping fuel the ‘wellness’ wave is also empowering patients and hence changing the doctor-patient relationship. Companies not just in the health & wellness space but all consumer facing business will need to understand this better” added Jitender Dabas, Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup India

Technology can help patients manage their own health but doctors can help them make better and right decisions. The emotional component to the relationship is also very important to be factored in. The four qualities that doctors have cannot be copied by machines or technology: Empathizing, listening, observing. Empathy and gratitude have no technology cousins nor can be mimicked.

Shared care is coming into its own, the survey found. Pharmacy and nurse educators have been underutilized health resources worldwide. There is a need to create a continuum so the doctor is part of the system and not left behind.

Similarly, “optimizing” clinical expertise to fit the complexity of a problem is the road ahead. Patients can get their blood pressure and sugar levels checked in a pharmacy rather than in a formal medical setting. “Distributed healthcare,” in which care services, such as monitoring vitals and diagnostic checks, move closer to the patient is also the road now being taken.

In sum, doctors will need to adapt to a new type of medicine where care, changing technology and social pressures are evenly integrated and balanced.

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