Beyond Just a Diagnosis of Disease

How many of us has been in this kind of situation?

We were feeling bad the whole day with headache, runny nose, sore throat, fever…Just feeling fatigue and miserable and don’t feel like getting out of bed. And finally, after some days passed by, we decided we need to go to the GP to get some consultation. We waited for hours in the waiting room, flipping through some random magazine and then taadaa…Our turn! We were greeted by the doctor and very quickly he/she leaded us into our symptoms and signs and duration of all that occurred, with some measurement of temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and some other vitals… Within maybe 10 minutes, we were out again in the waiting room, waiting for a prescription or maybe a medical cert.

This kind of routine perhaps happens many times everyday in a GP clinic. And then one may ask, how can a doctor comes into conclusion in such a short time? Does the patient feels satisfactory with the consultation? Is it worth the money and time spent by the patient to just get a paper with a ‘diagnosis – to rest for a few days at home’?

Over the past decade, there has been much emphasis being put on the doctor-patient relationship, either primary care or specialist tertiary care. Being a doctor requires not only in-depth medical knowledge and clinical skills, it also requires one to be able to communicate efficiently and built trust and rapport with the patients within just few minutes of consultation. Therefore, it has become increasingly important of the communication and interviewing skills of doctors in today’s world.

A recent article on “Following the clues: Teaching medical students to explore patients’ contexts” in the Patient Education and Counselling Journal, Vol 80 (2010), has shown multi-faceted approaches to increase medical students’ knowledge and skills in identifying contextual issues. Often, the knowledge of a patient’s contextual circumstances, such as responsibilities at home, work or school, beliefs and values, medical history and health concerns are overlook by physicians. And all these clues usually indirectly point towards the final diagnosis and treatment of the patient.

Nevertheless, additional research is still ongoing to find out more effective ways to improve doctor-patient relationship. Regardless of all these, the main role of a physician is still to cure, to comfort and to prevent illnesses, be it a psychological one, or a physical illness. Sometimes, the cure of an ‘illness’ is just an open heart to listen to the patients’ problems and offer some gentle advice. After all, we are all human beings and nobody likes to be alone with their problems. 😉

Wow! IBM Watson

Watson?  Who is Watson? The first thing that came into my mind was the character Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series who was the famous detective’s crime-solving partner. So, what about this IBM Watson? Is he some kind of influential world leader determine to change the world?  Or is he a millionaire that thinks the world should be ruled under one government? (no puns intended)

So, who is this Watson? Watson is a newly developed cognitive technology by IBM to process information based on understanding of natural languages, generating hypotheses based on evidences and learning as it goes. It seems like a human-like robot to me! It is named as Watson because of the founding researcher name Thomas Watson Jr. 

Watson is Everywhere

Across different field of industries, we can find Watson everywhere, ranging from healthcare to retail to different enterprises.  Watson has been learning different language of professions and has been trained by experts to work across many different industries.

IBM Watson Health

With the recent collaboration of IBM Watson with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, it is believed that this will bring revolution to the way cancer patients will be treated in the future. By combining computer processing system, high memory storage and interpretative skills as well as human’s experiences and expertise, the future of many cancer treatments would bring hopes to many. However, with every ups there will be downs along the way. Although Watson provides a better, faster and more cost-effective decisions to healthcare, patients still need human’s touch and care most of the time. Sometimes, a gentle touch and caring words offer a lot more consolation to the patients than a relatively sophisticated healthcare.

Technology is changing and improving every seconds and minutes everywhere in the world. All in all, healthcare aims to provide cure to diseases, to alleviate pain from patients and to bring comfort and peace to the patients as well as family members. Technology can certainly help in improving the healthcare system but most importantly it should be used wisely without losing the touch of the true love of humanity.

Hello World!

The journey of a second year medical student in RCSI has been marvellous and challenging so far. I’m blessed to have given this opportunity to study abroad from my home country, Malaysia. The culture, people, weather, etc here are so different from Malaysia yet I’m still very much enjoy every bits of it.

Life can be challenging being far away from home. Thus, my purpose of setting up this blog is to share my experience here as a medical student to everyone interested in reading my blog. Of course, it is also a little diary of mine to record down my daily thoughts and insights. As time passes and when I look back, these will be my fond memories that I will cherish forever….<3