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Science fiction . . . or should I say fact?

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | July 01, 2013
From the July 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

In health care, especially in recent times, the only dependable constant fact is that things change. Whether it's policy or procedure, we know that nothing is set in stone. That can be unsettling to many, but it also leaves the door open for greater innovations both in equipment and in how staffing decisions are made and in how procedures are carried out.

In this issue of DOTmed Business News, we have made some changes as well. We don't usually cover a modality in a feature as well as an ISR, but the news surrounding ultrasound is such that it made sense to create two standalone articles rather than to shoehorn markedly different procedures into one piece. I know I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: I always feel some delight when we're reporting on technology or innovations that seem like they'd be more at home in a science fiction author's work rather than a legitimate health care story. And that's how I felt reading the feature on therapeutic ultrasound (page 29). Reading the article got me to thinking about how health care's future might look (if we can all survive the arguments brought about by the Affordable Care Act).

Maybe it won't happen in my lifetime, especially if I don't start taking better care of myself, but I bet someday certain therapeutic procedures will be performed on patients in their own homes by doctors hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Sound crazy? Printing 3-D products sounded crazy until just before it happened, although frankly, it still sounds crazy to me. Yet, as we reported online in May, the technology improved and likely saved the life of a child when it was used to create a customized airway splint for him. The splint used on three-month-old Kaiba Gionfriddo seems to be just what the doctors ordered, since a year has gone by and he no longer has need to be on a respirator. So, really, science fact more than fiction is the rule of the day and the facts are amazing enough. Since our July issue is also our annual Women's Health Issue, we'd be remiss if we weren't covering the latest on the debate over mammography guidelines (see cover story page 48). That's right, the matter has not been put to rest and frankly, it would probably require more of a whimsical imagining than the most creative sci-fi writer could muster to picture guidelines everyone would agree on.

Another topic stirring up debate is the efficacy and benefit of proton beam therapy. However, we probably have the most renowned proponent of the technology in this issue presenting some convincing arguments. Dr. James Slater is this month's voice of our "Future of . . ." installment (page 68).

Finally, since we're hitting the halfway mark for the year with this issue, I want to take a moment to ask for feedback. What would you like to see us cover in print and online at some point this year? Drop me an email (sruck@dotmed.com) I always love hearing from you.

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