Sunday, February 24, 2013

Imagine the Future - My Digital Artifact

Take a moment and imagine the future with me.  Don’t think about what you have to get done for tomorrow.  Ponder how medicine might change in your lifetime. 

I saw Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon.  “That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind".  I was watching the TV with my grandfather.  He remembered when the Wright brothers had first flown a plane and the wonder of the first radio broadcasts- amazing technological advances in a lifetime.

In the history of medicine, the first vaccination was developed 100 years ago.   Penicillin was discovered 85 years ago, the CAT scan was developed 40 years ago and the human genome was sequenced 12 years ago.  Information that used to be looked up in reference books (and published every 3 years) is now available and updated almost instantly through the web.  
What scientific advances do you think might occur?  What might be the impact on patient privacy and discrimination, on equity and access? How will patients and health care teams communicate with each other in the future?  
To stimulate your thinking about the future, read a view (but certainly not the only view) of medicine in the future from The Atlantic   What are your thoughts about this view of the future and the role of the doctor?

What do you think the future of medicine will be like?  What do you value? How will you participate?

End of digital artifact
Self-reflections on the creation of my digital artifact
I had originally thought that the most challenging part of creating a digital artifact would be using new technologies as my prior experience was limited.  Instead, I struggled more with choosing the audience and the intent for my digital artifact.

Ultimately I decided to do a blog for medical students who are considering going into pediatrics. One of my roles is to teach students pediatrics during their clinical years.   There were so many different ideas from EDC MOOC that applied to medicine. Initially I developed a Power Point that touched on different aspects of the impact of evolving technology on medical care - a format that was familiar for me.  But then I realized that I didn’t want to tell students things, I wanted to give them an opportunity to reflect and discuss.   So I cut out most of what I had originally planned to include and condensed it to a single message “As technology changes medicine- what will be your role?”
I decided to use a blog as my digital artifact as a way to include both a visual piece to encourage reflection and links to more information.  I created a short video using Aminoto and then imbedded the video in my blog.  I included links in the to the New England Journal of Medicine timeline so that students could get a sense of how quickly medicine has changed.  I also linked to a recent article in The Atlantic that questions what the role of physicians will be as computers become more sophisticated in their ability to process and analyze information.  The Atlantic article is one that I thought many would find controversial especially in thinking about whether physicians healing role extends beyond their medical knowledge.

I don’t know if this digital artifact/blog post will be effective.  I plan to see if a colleague who actually has a blog for medical students would like to use it as a guest post.  I enjoyed the act of creating the video (and certainly learned a lot) but I’m not sure that it will encourage reflection more than a written blog would.  Is the response to the video different than the response to reading the post?  Since my intent was to stimulate reflection and discussion, I also wonder about the effectiveness of this post without a planned way to discuss the issues (in person, on twitter etc.).   As I have learned from EDC MOOC, much of my learning has occurred through interactions with others.
Let me know what you think.  I welcome your comments and suggestions-



  1. Nice work Dale, very evocative.

  2. If you weren't able to view the video, here is the You Tube link:

  3. My #edcmooc digital artifact is now also posted at

  4. I think it's lovely Dale, may I show it to my students? They are professionals in medicine and allied health, doing a Masters in public health in Australia. I teach one of their classes, focusing on developing academic English (they're international students), and this would be a perfect example of a digital story of the type I ask them to produce in relation to their further professional education through English :)

  5. Dale, Your digital artefact is wonderful! I loved the pacing of it, the thoughtfulness, the compassion, and the reminder to slow down. It reflects the "utopia" of what social media and digital education can be.
    How do we infuse medical education with this ethic? How do we do it only?
    As some of my peers in palliative care share - the more physicians like you who are out there sharing this perspective, speaking up with this voice - the more this beauty and compassion will become the predominant truth.
    Thank you!