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Is It All Too Much?

In his new book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, Scripps' Eric Topol writes that medicine is close to cashing in on the digital technology revolution, reports Sharon Begley in Technology Review. Besides the benefits to disease prevention and personalized medicine, Topol says it's only a matter of time before doctor visits are replaces by virtual house calls and remote monitoring, and medical errors reduced by the widespread use of electronic medical records.

However, Begley says, there's little evidence that these technologies provide a benefit for patients. "Much of the enthusiasm for bringing the information revolution to medicine reflects the assumption that more information means better health care," Begley says. "Actual data offer reasons for caution, if not skepticism." More data doesn't necessarily mean that patients will make better decisions about their health, Begley says. Even electronic medical records aren't necessarily associated with better care, she adds. Topol wrote his book primarily to show people why they should demand that medicine become as comfortable with technology as possible. But, Begley adds, Topol may have underestimated the costs of making his vision a reality.

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