The Nation's Health + [Self-directed health]

Self-directed health: The End of Medicine

Healthcare

"It's not about staying young--it's about staying healthy. They say 60 is the new 50. If you stay healthy, got a good ticker lay off tobacco, are lucky enough to avoid some weird cancer, you can kick up your heels, keep running your company, or better yet, travel the world, hike a mountain, ski Zermatt--heck, Tony Randall even started a new family.

But that's a big if. We pump ourselves with cholesterol-lowering drugs as if that was the magic elixir. Not so simple.

Instead, our skin is getting peeled back for a quick look inside. This is the end of medicine as we know it. Don't guess that I might have hardening of the arteries. Open me up and take a look. Don't guess that I don't have cancer because I'm not spitting up blood or growing a tumor the size of a grapefruit out my side."

If you can get beyond some of the frat-boy joking in the book, you will see that the author, Andy Kessler, actually acquires some pretty canny insights into the future of medicine in his book, The End of Medicine .

It's a book not about the end of medicine, but about the end of medicine as we know it today : the doctor by the bedside, the treating-when-symptoms-appear approach that characterizes current practice.

Instead, Kessler predicts that new technology will supplant the role of doctor-as-gatekeeper and decision-maker. Early detection is key. He picked up on that right away, as his quote above shows.

Despite the sophomoric humor, I was impressed that much of the Track Your Plaque approach--online, self-empowered, based on the concept of early detection followed by practical and effective tools for correction, involving your doctor only peripherally--is what Kessler is trying to articulate.

In actuality, I would not necessarily recommend his book, unless you need a light moment and some fodder for thinking about our health future. But he does have some startling insights for a guy who just invests money and has no real health background.

Another excerpt:

CT Anxiety

I always feel a certain anxiety when I walk into the Hyatt Regency at the bottom of California Avenue in San Francisco. The cutsie Trolley car outside, the Embarcadero tile pattern on the sidewalk — they are all part of the package. But as I've done every time I've been there, I head straight into the lobby, tilt my head back and scan the Escher-like floors, starting at the top and then down and outwards to the bottom until I start feeling dizzy. I thank Mel Brooks for this.

This guy was zooming through someone's brain like it was a Sunday drive. More like a Sunday afternoon video game.

With my head spinning from this "High Anxiety" flashback, I stroll into the conference, half expecting to be given a barium enema by a cross between Nurse Diesel from Mel Brooks' flick and Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I really gotta switch to decaf on days like this.

The 7th International Multi-Detector Row Computed Tomography Symposium sounded innocuous enough. I assumed it would be a bunch of technical papers on the future of scanning, where I would read the paper in the darkened hall until lunchtime and then head off for some hot Hunan and home.

Instead, the place was like a carnival for cardiologists.

Kessler has, in Silicon Valley style, left a wide wake of electronic content to get a better view of his ideas. There is a podcast located on the InstaPundit site that you can listen to at: http://podcasts.instapundit.com/AndyKessler.mp3, that provides some more of this irreverent but out-of-the-box thinker's thoughts.