Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will Dr. Watson get it right? Taking the prejudice out of diagnosing invisible chronic illness

                                                                         photo: News: Auto Express News

I was so excited when i got an alert on my blog about Dr. Watson. He'll get it right! He won't be prejudiced against the hundreds of patients suffering out there and who have been run over by the medical profession and told, "It is in your head."

I jumped up and did my pre ra happy dance which is kinda like the moon walk but with arms flapping to and fro (not really but doing it in my head is my modified way to celebrate now). Is this it? Is this the answer to getting treatment for those patients with autoimmune disorders that put them in terrible pain and with severe fatigue? Can they finally get a diagnoses rather then condemnation to suffer on.

Will we for once have a non prejudiced observing mind that will take in the facts, digest them through millions of nano bytes and graciously and without prejudice give out a diagnoses? I surely hope so! 

This week is National Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I want to shout it from the rooftops that we are here, we are chronically ill, we need for the medical community to rally for us, we need researches to help us find cures. We need for those that are still suffering and yet diagnosed to be put on the road to treatment, to join us as part of our unity. For these patients I worry the most. They are still left out in the dark. They are still alone, frightened and often made to feel inadequate and at fault for their illnesses. This is wrong. This is how I hope Dr. Watson can help.

Dr. Watson was featured on Jeopardy. He won!  Medical News Today wrote an article entitled: "Doctor" Watson to Inform Medical Decisions: Not Sherlock's Assistant, But A Computer. It is ironic that I who always believed that finding a doctor with compassion and empathy is the key to coping with chronic illness would support a computerized doctor. 

Having a doctor that will listen and work with you during your long journey is critical in being an empowered patient.   But unfortunately I also realize that so many of us can't find those compassionate doctors that will listen patiently, take notes, and search the archives of medical knowledge to help diagnose those perplexing symptoms. Dr. Watson will! He may not have the compassionate component of human interaction but for those patients that have been left in the dark for weeks, months and years….they won't care. They will be happy to just have a name, a diagnoses to help validate their suffering, their right of passage into the world of invisible chronic illness.  And more importantly, a passage into the world of treatment. Perhaps in this case, human prejudice is best left out of it.

And I do believe that is why so many are left undiagnosed and still suffer. We are humans after all. And that includes doctors, nurses and the mass of the medical community at large. We are what we learn. We are what we experience. And that is the very essence of the breeding grounds for prejudice.  The very causes for why so many doctors default to the it is in your head, you are to young to have these problems, you are working to hard,  you are depressed, you need to take off some weight, you need to learn to deal with it…the prejudices go on and on.

I never in a million years would have believed that I could have so much hope and faith in a non human being.  In a computer program that will diagnose patients objectively and without prejudice. Welcome home Dr. Watson! I am so looking forward to you heading up my team!

What about you? Would you be willing to be diagnosed by a computer?


Nan Hart said...

Fascinating subject Deb and one I would consider if I needed it...why not if the diagnosis can be made earlier and with accuracy...most of us with RA waited precious years for diagnosis and who knows what hidden erosions were going on in our joints all that time? Really thought provoking...Nan

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Nan....And I am figuring the computer won't give me any lip either :-) I think I would prefer this type of doctor because for me I wouldn't have to worry about the doc not remembering all my allergies, other medical issues, and the fact that most doctors don't even read the patients records before proceeding with the exam. This guy would have it all in his head before he starts :-) And he would be well educated with all the immediate updates to his data base. Yup...I'd be first in line. Probably a good way to cut medical costs in this country as well. And look at all the money that could be saved from duplicate testing...

Anonymous said...

Of course you would have to consider the overlapping symptoms of many of the auto immune disorders. I'm one of the lucky ones to date with my 2 year rheumy but, as patients demand more and more of his time, I hope it stays this way. So far, I wouldn't trade him in. Tammy

Don't forget to put your name in for the GIVEAWAY! Ends in the morning

Unknown said...

It wouldn't bother me. With my first rheumy I felt like a number going through the system anyhow - it didn't really matter what I had to say because he had my treatment figured out before he walked in the door. So sad.

Rhonda said...

I think it would be an amazing idea and quite possibly far more accurate than a mere humans memory and ability for analysis. Not only that computers don't have bad days, don't require sleep and will deal with the facts! I wonder how many people would be diagnosed sooner with this approach. A very thought provoking blog!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Tammy...I missed the deadline but go to your blog because I so enjoy it :-) I am glad you like your rheumie, this is good to hear. Out of a total of 8 ra docs, there was only 1 that I trusted with my health. She actually was the one that helped me to track down my thyroid issues. Problem I have found is that most specialists just don't have the patience to figure things out. I am not sure why this is but overall I find it to be the case. And sadly, they all follow this one track path including the dispensing of specific medications in a preplanned way with little exception and little tolerance for side effects, etc. But for you, I am happy. Truly.

Cathy...all I can say is...I SO AGREE! And what is really sad is it takes a new patient time to become familiar with the ropes of how to manage their own medical care and be a pro-active patient which by that time...well..years can pass.

RTournay...I am hoping this computer doc comes to fruition. I would love to see it put into practice for sooo many reasons. We are so short on ra docs nation wide, the cost of specialists, the delay in diagnosing correctly if at all, the lack of treatment, the lack of new medical information by current doctors, etc. etc. And to give us the human side of treatment, the office could hire physician assistants to implement the treatments which are alot less expensive. And I personally find them much more compassionate anyway! Problem solved :-) Now where do I make that appointment?

The Lady in Pred said...

I just wrote a really long comment--and it disappeared! So--thanks for the link. Love your writing. Completely agree--RA is so complex and there is so much information available it is difficult for a human to keep track of it all. Would much prefer a computer who remembers my last appt to a person who has so many patients they don't even recall they saw me last week. Love my rheumie but mostly see his PA--who often seems actually angry that I'm not satisfied to still be hurting and using prednisone. "It's not a perfect world." Yes, I know, but can't we just try?

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

The Lady in that PA wouldn't be so angry if she were the one with the pain of ra. I bet my boots she would want to find a way to get some relief and fast. It saddens me when i hear over and over and over that so many medical professionals are so crude and rude and just outright negative and at times mean to patients that need empathy and compassion. I wish there was a pyschological profile test that could be administered and passed in order for medical personal to be qualified to work with patients. It just so saddens me to hear these types of stories.

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