Disruptive technology has drastically changed the field of medicine and its practices. The generation that has grown alongside digital changes has introduced their own needs and preferences––which usually gives them a reputation as lazy and entitled. These millennials are often accused of being glued to their smartphones and computer screens. This stereotype leaves them as misunderstood––however, they may have a point. They are now the generation that comprises a large number of health professionals, doctors, and trainees, and their tech-savviness may be necessary in these changing times.
Take Blockchain which has been used as a tool to solve long-standing problems in the healthcare industry, such as wasteful spending and unnecessarily high costs among all stakeholders. This technology is predicted to continue breaking barriers in terms of sharing data more accurately and fostering a sense of transparency integral to healthcare. It is in a similar light that technology and advanced research has had an impact on integrative medicine as an emerging trend. Former president of the American College of Physicians Nitin Damle, M.D. has acknowledged that many doctors are pursuing new guidelines in terms of nonpharmacologic treatment as well. This shift has meant pushing the boundaries of everything that healthcare has to offer.
Studies show that 37% of millennials believe that the American healthcare system is terrible, and profit-oriented instead of patient-oriented. They have condemned the dishonesty of Big Pharma and are disillusioned by the pharmaceutical industry. This belief and skepticism of institutions, together with their digital tools, is what has allowed them to seek out their own solutions in terms of healthcare. The paradigm several of them have instead subscribed to is one that is more focused on wellness––a holistic approach to physical and mental well-being. Integrative medicine is one of their answers to supplement their cause. It encourages healthcare practitioners to be active participants in the process of healing together with their patients. Physical symptoms are not the only factors acknowledged, but the mind, body, and spirit are given equal importance. Integrative medicine quite literally integrates conventional and alternative methods to facilitate healing.
The “Connected” generation
With this growing trend, Maryville University shares how the “C” generation is primed to make up the majority of the workforce by 2025, filling the void left by their retiring baby boomer parents. This connectedness allows them to do quick searches on symptoms, support groups for illnesses on social media, health fads, and especially with one another. Healthcare and wellness apps have sprouted out left and right to encourage meditation, heart rate monitoring, and sleep schedules. These integrative approaches are backed by science, which really is at the heart of the practice of medicine.
Do no harm
Wellness professional Stephanie Smith says that generational differences should never get in the way of healthcare. Regardless of age, all physicians take the same Hippocratic Oath that they will uphold ethical standards throughout their practice. While technology is likely to make changes for the better in healthcare, it should still be observed with a critical eye. It can, however, be the key to bridging the gap between generations of medical professionals, encourage collaboration, improved diagnoses, less invasive treatments, extensive research, and overall improved patient care. It is prevention that integrative medicine also advocates, after all.
Article written by Olivia Thomason
Olivia Thomason comes from a long line of doctors, so her parents were a little disappointed when she told them she wanted to be a writer. Still, growing up around medical books and discussions about her parents' most interesting patients instilled in her a love for all things medical science. Thankfully, she's discovered blogging as a way to marry her two great loves of writing and medical science together. These days, she blogs about the latest developments in medical technology, and she hopes someday to have enough experience to become a full-time columnist on a broadsheet newspaper.