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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jeffrey S. Rose, MD (Private Practice)
Description: This book is a very interesting look at the potential effects of accelerating technical change of many kinds on healthcare delivery. There is the assumption that such accelerating change in technology will force similar acceleration in organizational change. It is largely and proudly conceptual in nature, written by multiple authors whose intent is to "change thinking" about technology issues in healthcare in the next thirty years.
Purpose: The purpose is to stimulate new ideas about technologic advantages and technology potential in healthcare as we advance our capabilities (somewhat science fictionally in many places), but not unrealistically given what is occurring today. Although the book is not purely about health informatics it is quite appealing to informaticists, but also to medical technophiles working toward a better health future. Emphasis is also fairly placed on the challenges associated with the costs and societal challenges of new technology, and the demands new technology will place on managers and executives who must embrace and implement the changes.
Audience: This book is written for practitioners and leaders in healthcare organizations across all spectra, but the main aim is at healthcare leaders. The contributors are all credible and authoritative.
Features: There is a general overview of accelerating technologic changes and the trends towards smaller and more mobile devices, virtual reality modalities, and artificial intelligence. Predictions are made regarding speech and handwriting recognition, natural language processing and other advancements. The segment in Chapter 3 on databases and information is particularly important, as is all of chapter 7 on change processes associated with IT. Research and new forms of diagnosis and therapy are reviewed, including genomic factors, as are telemedicine, androids, and cyborgs. Ruff's concluding chapter on leadership, followership, and science is masterful. The book is easy to read and quite effective at stimulating thoughts about our collective healthcare future, and very much on track.
Assessment: This is a valuable and unusual foray into the healthcare future, well grounded, nicely edited, interestingly written, and worthy of praise. Even though it is often conceptual and futuristic, it is balanced with observation of past developments. The author does conveniently leave out discussion of the more concrete and practical processes that will accompany the change, or even create it, but he certainly provides an interesting road map to the future. The kicker in all this futuristic thinking is the costs associated with the new technologies, versus their effectiveness and our ability to pay for the new methods.