By Bill Singer (AKA Geezer Bill)
Zillions of people are now entitled to medical care but as boomer doctors retire there will be fewer doctors to provide that care. Hence, a doctor shortage.
What are we senior citizens, the ones with all the medical needs, to do? Donâ€™t worry geezers. Technology, in the form of electronic medical records, artificial intelligence, and body monitoring technology is here to fill in the empty spaces where doctors used to be.
Phase I: Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)
It will begin with doctors opting for electronic medical records (EMRs). That means no more sitting in the waiting room balancing clipboard, germ-laden pen, and reading glasses while filling out those 12 pages of medical history every time you change to a new primary care physician or see a specialist.
Instead, on your first visit, the staff will slide your plastic medical card through a reader, which will populate the appropriate medical history and prescription drug boxes on their computer screens.
Your doctor will then have immediate access to your electronic records. Your medical card will even provide a current digital photo of you so the doctor can remember who the hell you are.
Your doctor will bring their electronic tablet to the examination room and flip through your electronic medical records to try and remember what you told him or her the last time you were in. He or she will look much more professional and efficient with that tablet in their hands. They will hardly even have to look at you.Â
The only danger will be a major power outage in which case your medical history will disappear. For some of us this will be a blessing.
And there is the small possibility of someone hacking into your EMRs. But what good would that do them? They can uncheck the arthritis box, but it wonâ€™t make the pain go away. They could take a few years off our age, but our senior bodies will soon give us away.
And we really wouldnâ€™t care if someone published our medical records. Whenever seniors get together weâ€™re always discussing our ailments and medical history anyway. So seeing it published is just a formality.
But even EMRâ€™s do require the doctor to actually spend time with you. That takes man or woman power. So the next step in doctor disappearance will be artificial intelligence (AI).
Phase II: Artificial intelligence
Many of us geezers think our doctors are already artificially intelligent. Theyâ€™ve studied medicine based on the standard age range of 20 to 49, but havenâ€™t quite figured out that geriatric medicine is about older people.
Our bodies have a bit more wear and tear on them. Our pains have taken years to develop â€“ they wonâ€™t go away overnight with a pill.
And we would like to talk about our symptoms, every little one of them. We know our bodies and what is and what isnâ€™t normal. But, alas, with AI, we will not be doing much talking to our doctors.
When you first check in at the medical office front desk, someone on the staff will give you a clipboard with a sheet of paper and a germ-laden pen. They will say, â€œLook over this list of keywords and pick the ones that apply to your condition today.â€ That way, the doctor wonâ€™t have to listen to all the words you say in between symptoms. Nor will your doctor have to listen to any emotional cues that may give away how youâ€™re feeling.Â
But the laugh will be on the doc when the computer analyzes the words youâ€™ve checked and researches every possible sickness or disease associated with those keywords, then prints out pages and pages of generic possibilities. This, because the doctorâ€™s lawyer wants to be sure the doctorâ€™s ass is covered.
Faced with 220 pages of possible diseases and ailments, the doctor will have to then hire what will be called â€œMedical Reading Assistants,â€ who, much like legal assistants, will have to skim the printout, analyze the keywords, and try to discern anything of value.Â
All the while, we will be in the waiting room, along with the 97 other patients waiting for their keyword analysis to be completed. Subscriptions to magazines will see a great increase. Or the doctor will just install more televisions to keep you busy while you wait.
Once the Reading Assistant identifies your â€œailment keywords,â€ the doc can then check the box for the correct pill, print out the prescription, and hand it to the staff member who will hand it to you, charge you for your visit, and let you go home. The receipt will have a picture of your doctor so the next time you come in you can remember which doctor it was that you didnâ€™t see.
Phase III: Body monitoring technology
When the final stage, body monitoring technology, is reached, youâ€™ll never even have to visit your doctor. No waiting. No trying to remember what your doctor looks like. Everything will be done by remote control.
Just imagine your body with chips, sensors, and in-skin monitors that will always be monitoring your body for number of French fries eaten, ounces of sugary soda drunk, and time spent watching reality TV, as well as then measuring the ensuing plaque buildup, increasing glucose level, and brain cell death.Â
It will be a minute-by-minute medical history. All youâ€™ll have to do is open the app on your mobile phone or blink into your Google glasses and you could watch your body deteriorate in real time.
And all that data will be instantaneously sent to your doctorâ€™s office. He or she could sit at their desk all day monitoring you. But it will be cheaper to hire â€œMedical Monitor Assistants,â€ to do the monitoring all day (and night, if you pay extra). And theyâ€™ll be able to treat you when your levels get outside of normally prescribed ranges.
If the Monitor Assistant sees your blood sugar is up theyâ€™ll just send a signal to your body and some insulin will be released. You may not even know about it unless youâ€™re looking at the readout on your Google glasses.
If your monitors diagnose a disease, your Monitor Assistant can schedule your minor robotic surgery in which some medication sacks will be implanted inside your body right next to all those internal monitors.
Eventually, doctorâ€™s offices will have rows and rows of Monitor Assistants, which will be nicknamed â€œPanels.â€ In time, the Panels could, based on Government morbidity tables, decide which seniors get their remote medicine and which donâ€™t. They will then be called LODPs for Life Or Death Panels. Once these Life Or Death Panels are in place we can do away with doctors completely.
Doctor shortage problem solved!