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Saturday, March 05, 2005

When Is Enough Enough?

When you take control of your health and well being you can worry less about becoming some form of a guinea pig for intrusive procedures. You might also ponder the ethics of this issue.

This 2001 Siemens article cleanly illustrates something about wellness. While they are making extraordinary advances in technical capabilities, their divorce from nature is breathtaking. I believe this article is worthwhile reading.


The Transparent Patient

At Siemens, researchers are developing technologies that will make patients appear transparent and may one day allow surgeons to operate through micro robots on a cellular level. Just around the corner are genetic testing systems that promise to replace many of today's operations with early detection and wellness programs.

[snip]

Clearly, bioinformatics—the new science of harvesting genetic information to produce medical knowledge—especially when combined with traditional patient medical information, holds the potential of producing a revolution in medical care and public health.

Assuming technologies can be developed that will ensure absolute data privacy and universal data availability, the introduction of genetic testing could move the entire treatment time line forward to the stage of predisposition (see graphic above).

Predispositions would be "treated" with highly targeted medications and possibly even continuously monitored with subcutaneous chips. Drawing from huge public health data bases, neural networks would suggest tailored life-styles and diets designed to maximize each person's healthy life span.

The health care community—and industry leaders such as Siemens—would concentrate less on detecting and repairing advanced illnesses, while focusing more intensely on keeping people healthy.

Hospitals would be transformed into 'wellness centers,' and operating rooms—miles away from today's cut and stitch culture—would become highly specialized control centers in which microscopic robotic instruments guided by surgeons would return the most serious cases to health.

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