Preparing medical students being digitally as well as socially responsible

Doctors.jpg

(Jafar Ahmed, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr.Aakash Sethi, a 2nd year Medical student in India. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Doctors must be socially responsible when it comes to treating patients. After Tim Berners Lee built the WWW, the way we shared information was revolutionized. The internet and social media have shaped the world in a completely different way. We are in the peak of our quest to find new things.

Omar N Breadly said– Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We can very well replace the word ‘Nuclear’ with ‘Technological’ considering the pace with we are bring in new technologies in our world. With all these advancements one question remains unanswered- How can we teach Medical students to be more ethically responsible while handling these new Technologies. In the subsequent paragraphs I will try my best to do justice in answering this question.

One way in which the new technologies are brought out in the market is ‘Bio-Medical Devices’. We can consider that the medical innovations industry has 4 stakeholders- Manufacturer, Regulator, Provider, and Consumer. In future the Students would play the role of the Provider of the innovation. In other words, they would guide and help the patient to choose what’s best for him.

The Biomedical devices bring ethical dilemmas with them. Digitalisation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) have made data management simpler. But these are also under the threat of being hacked or sold to 3rd party developers. The privacy of the patients can be compromised. The concepts of medical informatics can be included in the curriculum to help the students be more familiar with the storage, retrieval and interpretation of the EMR. This would help uphold the principles of `privacy` and `confidentiality`.

Contribution of artificial intelligence to diagnosis and treatment has originated ethical dilemmas over the extent of physician reliance on machine intelligence. The students must know more than the machines so they can recognise mistakes and inaccurate information in the computer systems and ensure that decisions made are relative to treatment goals. This would prevent `non- maleficence`

The advent of newer and improved kind of treatment options coupled with demands of the patient to be treated faster, have compelled doctors to use diagnostic tools which can be at times costlier. We need to take care that our purchase of health care technology enhances patient care more than it drives up cost. It should be imbibed in the student’s mind that the patient’s welfare should be the first consideration while making decisions, which is consistent with the principles of `beneficence` and ‘autonomy’.

The ease of learning a new procedure online has increased. Before the physician applies the newer technique, he should take appropriate offline training, make full disclosure and discuss the risk/benefits of the procedure with the patient.

As the saying goes `with more power comes more responsibility`. In this technological world if we teach medical students the ethics to handle the great power of heath IT, we can surely achieve the objective of Universal Health Coverage.

References

  1. J J Yeo, C. (2003). Ethical dilemmas of the practice of medicine in the Information Technology age. Singapore medical journal. 44. 141-4.
  2. McGowan JJ, Passimentc M, Hoffmand HM. Educating medical students as competent users of health information technologies: the MSOP data. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2007;129(Pt 2):1414–8
  3. Stern RJ. Teaching Medical Students to Engage Meaningfully and Judiciously With Patient Data. JAMA Intern Med.2016;176(9):1397. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3886
  4. Advances in Information Technology and Communication in Health edited by James G. McDaniel
  5. Virtual Mentor.2011;13(3):193-196. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2011.13.3.oped2-1103.
  6. Virtual Mentor. 2007;9(2):83-85. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2007.9.2.fred1-0702.

About the author

Aakash Sethi is a 2nd year Medical student in India. At MSAI- India he was the local officer for Human Rights and peace. During his one-year long term as local officer he conducted a total of 7 activities. He has his own YouTube channel named ‘Aakash Sethi’. Recently, he has been selected as part of IFMSA’s ‘World Bioethics Day 2019 SWG’ and he is the college ambassador for MSAI- India UNESCO Bioethics unit. In future, he wants to work in the field of Public health. 

 

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