Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Lesson from Richard Feynman


Some of you may recognize this man, as well you should. Feynman was a well known physicist who often thought out of the box. Feynman was a powerhouse in the world of theoretical physics, During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world.

Feynman was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and lectures, notably a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom and The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Feynman also became known through his semi-autobiographical books (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?) and books written about him, such as Tuva or Bust! (wikipedia)

What does any of this have to do with Health and Medicine and Doctors?

The Map of the Cat Conundrum:




Anyways. As any Feynman fan will remember, he decided to drop out of Physics for a while and check out BiologyThe story goes something like this:

“A map of the cat, sir?” she asked, horrified. “You mean a zoological chart!” From then on there were rumors about some dumb biology graduate student who was looking for a “map of the cat.”

When it came time for me to give my talk on the subject, I started off by drawing an outline of the cat and began to name the various muscles.

The other students in the class interrupt me: “We know all that!”

[Now THIS is my favorite part!]

“Oh,” I say, “you do? Then no wonder I can catch up with you so fast after you’ve had four years of biology.” They had wasted all their time memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes.

This is the harbinger of what is occurring in healthcare and many sciences as well. No longer are we required to fill our cerebral cortices with dribble that will mostly be lost in time. Our efforts will be toward truly cognitive skills developing constructs with analytics. There will be few places without access to terabytes of stored data, tables, charts, algorithms,  transforms, calculus, spreadsheets and the like.

The stigma of referring to a database in front of the patient will turn to “doctor aren’t you going to look that up to be sure it is correct?


Referring to a social media hash tag or a Google circle for an instantaneous second opinion from a #hcsm or #ophth or #intmed friend will become common place. 


And that my friends is the power of how social medial will transform your daily dabblings in healthcare


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