« Future Health IT--Not | Main | Breathe Easy: testing breath for disease »

Consequences of Healthcare Convergence

I love films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis that are centred on the ultimate machine that resembles a bodge of a steam engine, a badly wired fuse box and the contents of a mad scientist's lab. So, it was a treat to visit an exhibition on Modernism in London.

A 1919 quote from Walter Gropius, a member of the era's hugely influential Bauhaus, caught my eye:

The old forms are in ruins. The benumbed world is shaken up, the old human spirit is invalidated and in flux towards a new form.

For a recently-published article on the flux in healthcare to a new form, convergence, I spoke to Microsoft's John Coulthard, Director of Healthcare, UK. He thinks predictive DNA testing, wireless communications and burgeoning diagnostic and monitoring devices herald a decisive shift from the management of late-onset disease to prophylaxis.

The Modernists were also inspired by a form of convergence. They found the separation of Art, Craft and Design artificial and admired the machine as the epitome. Le Corbusier, another of the movement's leaders, even described homes as "machines for living".

Today's acute hospitals may be "machines for health"...but that doesn't seem to follow, because they are centred on the management of illness, which, if Mr. Coulthard is right, makes them obsolescent.

Healthcare in the 21-Century is a new form. Though founded on technology, it will be less like a machine and more dispersed, amorphous and pluralistic. Not focussed on managing illness, but on maintaining health.

Read Come Together the article on healthcare convergence I refer to.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


The concept of ubiquitious computing and linking machines are not new. This has been evolving in other areas read defence..etc. Nor is the use of prophylaxis a new concept, the tools for this was lacking so far. The more worrying parts about these would be who has control to what information, and the integrity of the information. It is a worrying thought that patients would only be a statistic if things if the control measures which are supposed to work fail to do so.

Welcome to the site.

I am not sure what points you are making. If it is that interconnectivity and ubiquitous computing is not a new concept, then I think that is self evident.

What is significant is the convergence of IT, healthcare and genetics. That means it is no longer optional for healthcare to concentrate on late-stage management--the shift to prophylaxis will be forced. As will the adoption of IT, at which healthcare has been remarkably dilatory.

What is also noteable is that Microsoft, a global force in software and IT, is interested in this convergence.

On the matter of confidentility, which I think is the last point you are making. Naturally, I want my personal information to be secure.

However, I already trust current security for banking and shopping, which contains far more interesting (and potentially damaging) information than my health record. Whether I have an online record is a decision for me, surely--not for a government and their advisors.

In addition, I will not simply be one of a category like "coronary heart disease". Continual online monitoring makes me more of an individual, with tailored prophylaxis in which I will have a greater say than ever.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)