21st Century Miracle MedicineBMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7121.1551 (Published 06 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1551
- Bryan Jennett, neurosurgeon
- Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow
Alexandra Wyke: Plenon, £16.33, pp 352 ISBN 0 306 45565 X
Dr Wyke is well placed to embark on this exercise in predicting the future of medicine, with a doctorate in biochemistry and 15 years as healthcare correspondent with the Economist. She began her task by setting out on a whirlwind tour, mainly in the United States, to talk to those at the growing edges of both technology and the organisation of health care for their views about how medicine would be in the year 2050.
She begins with the familiar litany of criticisms of medicine today—overuse of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, halfway technologies prolonging disabled lives without curing, and iatrogenic ills from hospital infections and medical mishaps. These are associated with more healthcare staff and escalating costs, and the whole enterprise is compromised by poor communication between doctor and patient, doctor and doctor, and teacher and taught.
Communication technology is rightly identified as the key to change, leading to the death of distance. Patients, with a …