Distraction: our worst addiction

Tony Swartz, author of “The way we are working isn’t working”, argues in this article about one of the main addictions that pervades our society today: distraction. Interestingly he doesn’t discuss his argument by commenting on other’s distracting behaviors, but refers directly to his own experience. He looks both at the biological and sociological causes that bring about this condition. “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.” is one of the many strong statements he presents, in order to describe how distraction has become an addiction, because we gave up to the detachment from reality that it gives. He refers directly to a survey done last year reporting that the average “ white collar” worker spends at least six hours a day on email not counting the time spent shopping on line and onto the social networks. On the other hand, it is scientifically proven that for an average middle age individual the level of attention while reading has radically decreased exponentially with the increase in use of the net. We are addicted to the detachment of reality… Isn’t it the worst addiction? Continue reading “Distraction: our worst addiction”

Modern Hospitals: Lack of Competition

Charles Rosenberg’s piece “The Rise of the Modern Hospital” illustrates how hospitals, once seen to be unimportant and maybe even unnecessary back in the 1800s, have since evolved into centers of knowledge and influence. Rosenberg seems to mainly attribute this evolution of hospitals into their own sphere of influence within the public eye to the rapid development of scientific theories and technology. Because certain technology which could further one’s healthcare such as x-rays could only be found in hospitals, people were forced to acknowledge hospitals’ importance and it was even possible then for hospitals to compete with each other by trying to draw in more patients with more technologically advanced machinery and more effective procedures (and treatments). What were other factors leading to the rapid expansion of hospitals? In addition, as I mentioned possible competition between hospitals to draw in patients by providing better technology and better care, why then, does it seem that this competition no longer exists? Though some research hospitals do make it a priority to further advancements in healthcare, many seem to operate solely to profit off of those who cannot receive medical treatment in any way. This seems especially apparent now knowing of the existence of charge masters and how there is a lack of transparency with how the prices for procedures in different hospitals are set.

Technology Holding Back the Growth of Hospitals

In Rosenberg’s text, The Rise of the Modern Hospital, it seems that technology is what drove the rise of hospitals. He explains how technology was able to provide better healthcare and this gives a reason for people to want to go to a hospital. People could not get these medical equipment in their offices or homes, the only available place was the hospital. Was technology the main force that drove the growth of hospitals? What were the other major factors that helped with the expansion of hospitals? Finally without the fancy medical technology/equipment, do you think hospitals would have grown the way it did? How would the growth of hospitals change?

The Modern Hospital

In “The Rise of the Modern Hospital”, Charles Rosenberg describes the growth of the modern hospital. Rosenberg states that beginning around 1910, the hospital became a national institution in which it was respected by many Americans. Previous to the 20th century, hospitals only served those who were homeless/did not have the resources to care for themselves. Rosenberg writes that the concept of a hospital flourished when new technology, such as  the x-ray, were created.

To what extent does the creation of new technology still impact our view of the hospital today? Does society gain more trust/respect for hospitals and doctors when cutting edge technology is released? Is there a limit to the high-tech equipment in regards to gaining patient trust?

A Patient’s Story

In reading the excerpt from Jerome Groopman’s novel “How Doctors Think”, one quote in particular stuck with me. The physician he was interviewing, Dr. Myron Falchuk, was discussing his interaction with the patient whose story begins the novel.  He said “But I believe this that this technology has also taken us away from the patient’s story. And once you remove yourself from the patient’s story, you no longer are truly a doctor.”  I thought that this was a really strong quote that also related to the Ted talk that we watched last week in class. The speaker talked about how he would set up a preliminary appointment just to listen to his patient’s story, and felt that in doing so he established a better relationship with the patient and was able to have better communication with them.  In light of all the technological advances of modern medicine, do you feel that the story of the patient becomes superfluous? Does all the technology we have today, in terms of diagnostic tools and imaging techniques, render the patient’s oral history or list of complaints obsolete? Or, as Dr. Falchuk and the Ted speaker have expressed, is listening to what the patient has to say truly the first step in making a correct diagnosis and establishing a proper treatment plan?

Social Construction

In Peter Conrad and Kristin Barker’s article, they explain the concept of social constructionism and say that “the emphasis is on how meanings of phenomena do not necessarily inhere in the phenomena themselves but develop through interaction in a social context.” In other words, the disease itself may have an entirely different meaning than the illness, based on social context, cultural differences, lack of knowledge, and different perceptions. They also claim that a “stigmatized illness can make an illness much more difficult to treat and manage” and then go into the example about HIV/AIDS and how people are less likely to seek help for their condition. Because technology heavily influences social behavior and experiences today, do you think this has anything to do with how we view illnesses and diseases? Technology, especially the Internet, allows information to be public, available, and accessible as well, so is it bad that all this excess information is available since the public is able to interpret it however they want to? Should we be focusing on educating and reducing the stigma in society instead of giving out all this information to the public?

Overtesting a by-product of technology?

After reading “Overkill” by Atul Gawande, I was upset by the fact that so many people were receiving unnecessary treatments and medicines they did not actually need. In this day and age, medicine is advancing faster than ever and technology is always improving to be more effective and efficient. At one point in the article, he states, “the phenomenon of overtesting, which is a by-product of all the new technologies we have for peering into the human body.” If this statement is true, do you think technology is actually harming humans when it comes to treatment and how should we balance this with the knowledge and resources medical professionals already had pre-technological advances?