Warning; this piece may make for uncomfortable listening. It is a fascinating look at the recent history of medicine and how our profession may in fact be sick. Contained within the story is a message of hope, evidence alongside a message that may contain the cure.
In our recent history we seem to have enjoyed something of a “Golden Age” of medicine which, by raising quality of life so dramatically, has transformed our understanding of concepts such as “public health” and even “standard of living”. However, running alongside that is an industry and society that is primarily interested in business and profit above evidence and health. Has the industry which built up around our profession during the ‘Golden Age’ now become a parasite which weakens its host to the point of near exhaustion?
After a concise critique of the current culture of research this talk asks why we are wasting time on research that is not reliable, not useful and does not impact care. Could it be that market forces have strangely made us less efficient? Evidence based medicine is the way forward but can we overcome the inherent bias behind the fact that often big business funds the evidence gathering and its publication?
Some assumed the period of rapid development, which included discovering the DNA helix, successful organ transplant and vaccinations, would soon inevitably be followed by equally epoch transforming breakthroughs, others are less optimistic. Are genomics and big data more often ‘science’ than medicine? Is “digital health” “simply one part of what has now been called surveillance capitalism”?
This challenging but ultimately hopeful and inspirational talk was given at the EBPOM Dingle conference last year, please share it to as wide an audience of your peers as you can to help make this important and healing conversation happen.
Presented by Seamus O’Mahony, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Cork University Hospital, associate editor for medical humanities of the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review of Books.
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