978-0-7879-0343-5 / 9780787903435

Cybermedicine: How Computing Empowers Doctors and Patients for Better Health Care





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About the book:

Dr. Warner Slack has reasonable opinions on the practice of medicine--whatever helps patients live happier, healthier lives is good medicine; whatever interferes with patients' health is bad; and the more knowledge and control put into patients' hands, the better. Slack also enthusiastically believes that computers are powerful tools for good medicine. Obviously, computer technology is at the root of a wide area of diagnostic and surgical tools, from CAT scans to surgical monitors, but that's not what Slack discusses. He looks at computers as communication tools for storing and retrieving information--tools that empower patients to take a greater role in their own health care and provide physicians with a wider range of knowledge and capabilities.

Slack first examines how computers in medicine have affected patients, showing how, contrary to all fears of the '50s and '60s, the computer has been a tool for humanizing medicine. The Internet has brought patients together into online help groups. Information about medical matters, once handed down to patients from on high (if at all), is now available to anyone who learns the fundamentals of a search engine. And even in treatment itself, preliminary interviews through computer forms have made patients feel more at ease, led to greater insights, and evoked feelings of being more in control. Slack explains how computers have allowed doctors to network, gain quick and easy access to all the latest technical information, and review medical information.

Slack's conclusion is that the medical world needs more computers, but he tempers his enthusiasm with caution regarding the challenges of maintaining confidentiality. Slack writes without a trace of ponderousness and with refreshing common sense. His emphasis on the patient as an intelligent human being rather than as an object to be treated is uplifting. Not only should all doctors, patients, and health care administrators read this book, they should discuss it with each other.

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