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Curbside with Dr. D: New beginnings, a Medical Renaissance, & the Digital Enlightenment

by Neel Desai, M.D.

Happy 2018! This time of year always signals new beginnings, new potential, new commitments by people. They come in the form of changing habits: “I’m going to go to gym. I’m going to eat healthy. I’m going to quit smoking. I’m going to spend less time in front of a screen and more time with my friends and family outside.” You get the idea. We at The Happy Doc are no different.

We want to do new and healthy things for our movement and have a positive impact on anyone that supports us as well. We’ve made clear why we are doing what we are doing – to heal the healers and shift the culture of medicine from the bottom up. But what comes next? The how. How will we do this? To do this, I’m going to start with one of my favorite subjects—history. I saw that eye roll and yawn. Stop it! You’ll see why it’s relevant in a second.

Let me start by bringing up the Renaissance. This was a period in European history in response to the Dark Ages. It was a cultural and intellectual movement that traced its’ original roots as early as the 12th Century, peaked in the 15th/16th Centuries and didn’t really end until the 17th Century. Its’ chief tenets were a preoccupation with Greco-Roman (classical) learning and culture, most of which had gone “dark” (hence “Dark Ages”) during the early Middle Ages in Western Europe. It focused on classical philosophy, architecture, letters, mathematics, the natural sciences, reason, and humanism. Products of this age included legendary historical figures like the great artist/inventor Leonardo da Vinci, the artists Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and the political philosopher Machiavelli as just a few examples.
To bring this into modern medical times, I refer to a conversation Taylor and I had on the podcast where we compared our current EHR systems akin to the early box cell phones from the early 1980s. We said it’s like we are in the Dark Ages. But what came after the Dark Ages? The Renaissance. And then the Enlightenment. See where am I going with this? Good.

The Enlightenment came after the Renaissance, started around the mid-17th Century, and peaked in the 18th Century. It was an Age of Science, reason, and philosophy, focused more on rationalism and empiricism, rather than the classical Greco-Roman focus seen in the Renaissance. This era fostered the likes of transformative historical figures in science like Isaac Newton, philosophy like Descartes, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, and the American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. Many of the Founding Fathers were students of the Enlightenment and it eventually led to the foundation of two of the most famous documents in U.S. History-the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Back to modern day. This is a new day for medicine. A rebirth. Our Renaissance. And over the coming months we will bring about the Enlightenment of medicine through new ways of learning medicine in our Digital Age. We will transform medicine, medical education, and medical culture. You only need to look at our gallery of Medical Influencers or take a listen to any podcast episode to see how we have started. (This discussion about philosophy and the evolution of medicine actually reminds me of our podcast episode where Taylor interviewed Dr. Venu and Dr. Vinay Junapalli about Health 3.0.) We are at a critical juncture with healthcare right now and what next steps we take will determine failure or success. Fortunately, we have some ideas.

The next steps are to connect with more enlightened health professionals, bring them together in virtual and real spaces, create new groups and networks, new collaborations, teach new generations their secrets to 21st Century medical career success through digitized medical education, and give them back their autonomy they so deserve. And this is exactly what we will do in 2018 through building out our website, interviewing more fulfilled creative health professionals, getting more passionate and creative healthcare professionals and supporters involved with our movement, and reaching out to anyone in healthcare who wants something better.

This is the future of Medicine. Today. Over the past year we have brought about the beginning of a Renaissance. Now it’s time for next steps and laying the foundation for our Digital Medical Enlightenment. The only question is: Will you be part of those who write history or be a bystander and have someone else write it for you? I’m in. Taylor’s in. Our Happy Doc team is in. Are you?

Join us and let us know what you think – email us at thehappydoc1@gmail.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Neel Desai is a family physician, active contributor to The Happy Doc, and has a New Year’s resolution to stop texting like a teenage girl. Follow him on Twitter @drneel1973.

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