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“Doctors Are Headed for Redundancy” – Have you read it?

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, editor-at-large of The Kernal, recently wrote a story about the diminishing value of doctors, and the rise of nurses and technology. We couldn’t wait to share the story with you and get your thoughts on the controversial topic.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

“One of the greatest fallacies of the past few decades is that better technology and globalisation mean that intellectually abstract professions are more promising than the less intellectually abstract. Call it the knowledge economy fallacy.

The problem is that what computers and globalisation result in is intellectual tasks becoming the easiest to outsource, whether it be to a computer or to a developing country. To put it clearly: it’s impossible to outsource an electrician, but it’s very easy to outsource a bookkeeper. The McKinsey Global Institute recently published a list of the most ‘disruptive’ trends. On the list? ‘Automation of knowledge work.'”

He continues…

“Perhaps the totemic safe knowledge job is being a doctor. It’s the professional occupation that requires the most years of study. And, particularly in many mothers’ mouths, ‘becoming a doctor’ has become a byword for getting a job with unassailable economic security.

And isn’t healthcare one of the most promising sectors, as our populations age and as we move to an economy driven by services rather than manufacturing? Medicine looks like the epitome of the knowledge occupation secure from the roiling seas of the global economy.

And yet. The problem with medicine, especially workaday, general practice medicine, is that it is immensely wasteful, in a basic way. To get a check-up is to ask an extremely qualified professional to perform work that, by itself, really only requires a couple of years’ worth of education.”

On technology…

“What if instead you could use an iPhone app to describe your symptoms and be reassured by an expert? With our devices’ ever-expanding photo and video capacities, the powers of diagnosis are really very good. (This sort of diagnosis is already here: your correspondent has dispatched a picture of his child’s vomit to her pediatrician via smartphone.)

If the phone is not enough, the app could refer you to the appropriate specialist or clinic, with an appointment and minimal wait time. Some start-ups, of course, are already working on this.”

He concludes…

“There would still be doctors, of course. We would still need a bunch of specialists, especially in hospitals and for research. But the ‘doctor’ as we understand it is about to start disappearing, replaced by better business models, better technology and globalisation.

The counterintuitive conclusion to all this for aspiring medical students, by the way, is that if you want to go into healthcare and you also want a secure economic future, it might be a better bet to become a nurse than a doctor.”

Read the entire story here, then tell us, do you agree? How does this affect you and your job? Fill us in below!

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