Revolutionary New Medical Technologies vs the Lost Human Element in Healing

Robot-assisted surgery. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)

by Connie Hernandez, ND

We live in a cosmos that’s ruled by inescapable dualities: night and day, light and dark, sound and silence, above and below, hot and cold.

Every new high-tech development in medicine also comes with pluses and minuses.

On the positive side, technology has given us wonderful tools for diagnosing and treating illness: ultrasound, CT scans, MRI, conventional and complementary lab testing, thermography, and tools to evaluate the electromagnetic frequencies emitted by the body or to heal the body using other frequencies.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

These developments are offering us a far greater understanding of the body’s microscopic and macroscopic anatomy. As a consequence of the new medical tech, treatments are increasingly based on assessing and correcting micro-biologic factors and imbalances in electromagnetic frequencies, where we were formerly limited to drugs, surgery, and radiation.

As patients, it’s now far more easy to make appointments and access medical records through an online portal, instead of pleading with office staff to send physical copies. The downsides include  increased risk of data mismanagement or loss, and electronic tracking.

Wearable tech now allows us to monitor cardiac function, exercise habits, and track sleep changes, blood sugar values, and much more.

Step by step, we’re approaching Star Trek Medicine. And that’s a very good thing. However, high-tech medicine does comes at a cost.

A disillusioned surgeon lamented the loss of personal connection, as in-person visits are increasingly replaced by remote diagnoses and even surgery, what to speak of electronic record keeping replacing in-person medical counseling.

Not only is there a loss of personal contact, there’s an increasing emphasis on logging data and checking boxes to satisfy office supervisors and medical insurance requirements – rather than trying to understand the whole-person context in which the disease and discomfort occurs.

Our many years of medical practice have showed us that the impersonal lists of symptoms given to the doctor aren’t always the most significant for the patient’s care, and that they can often be unrelated to the actual cause of disease.

I think fondly of Dr. John Bastyr, the naturopathic physician for whom our medical school was named.

As medical students, we met patient after patient who described the joy of being in Dr. Bastyr’s company, and how their concerns melted away before his compassionate wisdom, his healing presence, and his sensitive touch.

A coldly impersonal visit for a high-tech assessment forestalls any possibility of benefiting from this type of in-person healing experience.

Hence the vast difference between the 90-minute first office visit typical of naturopathic medicine, versus the five to 15 minutes  allotted by medical institutions for doctors to assess and care for each patient’s ills.

Video consults, while convenient and accessible for many, are puzzlingly and dumbfoundingly required for elderly and other patients who are rarely tech-savvy.

A remote consult cannot substitute for the in-person visit of former times.  While something may be gained in efficiency, something very valuable is also being lost in human terms.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, or use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch or follow the link to Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!