2:40 - 3:00 pmSaturday, September 6
Plenary Hall
How emerging technologies get into medical school: Lessons from 100 years of innovation
Plenary Hall
How emerging technologies get into medical school: Lessons from 100 years of innovation
PhD, MPH, Professor of English, Rice University
Since the discovery of the x-ray in the late nineteenth century, the emergence of every new, cutting-edge visualization and communication technology has been greeted with deep ambivalence by medical organizations.... Read more

Description

Since the discovery of the x-ray in the late nineteenth century, the emergence of every new, cutting-edge visualization and communication technology has been greeted with deep ambivalence by medical organizations. As new techniques for representing the human body bring new fields of diagnosis and treatment into being, they also launch debates about the status, credibility and ownership of the new kinds of information and knowledge attached to the emerging technology. Efforts to standardize clinical interpretation of x-ray images and formalize their role in patient care delayed the full integration of this technology into medical practice by about twenty years. A similar story can be told about the emergence of medical motion pictures as an alternative to the use of surgical wet clinics in the early twentieth century. While each new visualization and communication technology elicits unique responses to its novel affordances, the narratives attending their adoption illuminate stakeholders’ concerns surrounding their disruptive effects on traditional medical hierarchies.

Just as early 20th century visualization technologies posed challenges to the clinician’s diagnostic autonomy, early 21st century digital communications technologies have posed challenges to the very concept that clinicians are the sole gatekeepers for medical information and expertise. ePatients, self-trackers, online disease communities and other networked individuals are reframing the doctor-patient relationship around the concept of digitally-enhanced participatory medicine. Yet, the new practices and data sets associated with technological augmentation of self-care raise century-old questions about how (and why) physicians might integrate these new sources of health information into their approach to patient engagement. While early adopters in the health care community (well-represented in the Medicine X audience) are actively grappling with the issues surrounding medicine in the digital age, formal medical education has barely begun to address the new training needed for physicians to become adept practitioners of millennial medicine.

By examining historical examples of emerging technologies that initially encountered resistance but were eventually incorporated into medical practice, we can begin to recognize patterns that shed light on contemporary challenges for medical education. Based on archival research at the National Library of Medicine, The American College of Surgeons, and other sites, this talk will identify and explain the key barriers that need to be overcome for emerging technologies to become part of medical education. Evidence from older technologies such as motion pictures, closed-circuit television, and first-generation telemedicine will be used to explain how newer technologies such as mobile apps, wearable sensors, and Google glass can find a place in the formal medical curriculum. This talk will present valuable perspective and framing of debates around emerging technologies for audience members seeking compelling arguments for the incorporation of digital health technologies into medical education at their home institutions.

Kirsten Ostherr is a media scholar & design thinker who specializes in health and medical visualizations: historical, present and future. She is a Professor of English at Rice University and, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, she has recently completed a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Her work is focused on bringing media theory and health communication into a more powerful and beneficial engagement. Dr. Ostherr is especially interested in using new media technologies to enhance patient-centered care. 

She is also the Director and co-founder of the Medical Futures Lab, a collaborative center dedicated to reimagining medicine at the intersection of humanity and technology. They’re busy inventing digital medical humanities, experimenting with collaborative participatory design projects, and training the next generation of digital doctors there.

Her most recent book, Medical Visions: Producing the Patient Through Film, Television, and Imaging Technologies, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2013. Medical Visions explores how audiovisual media – from x-rays to 16mm film to television and the Internet – have trained both physicians and patients to see and understand health and disease. The book covers the entire 20th century, and peeks into the 21st – it is historical and theoretical, and it is meant to provide a useful framework for current medical professionals, educators, communicators, start-ups, and students to learn from the past to make the future better. Dr. Ostherr hopes you read it, enjoy it, and enter the dialogue. She looks forward to hearing your comments. See update on Medical Visions for the latest news and intriguing linkages with some of the best television ever produced!

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