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The Gift of Time is Upon Us

Review of Eric Topol's upcoming "Deep Medicine"

For his third book, Eric Topol produced a time capsule for Deep Medicine AD 2019: a particular time in the history of healthcare when everything was still possible, but we had to make a choice.

The majesty of this book rests on 3 pillars:

First of all, the stories between the data hammer in the new knowledge emotionally. The family Lazarus story of the father-in-law, a 90-year-old, Purple Heart decorated WWII vet who had never been sick but suddenly gets dizzy, and from then on, it becomes a perfect storm. He ends up in a deep coma, is taken home to die, but miraculously wakes up hungry. Three weeks later he dies of “natural” causes. The search stops there. The moral of the story: we are so close but still so far. On average, 17 years span between research and clinical adoption. Sadly, it may take a lot longer than we think to change the world where real people die without knowing why.

Secondly, provocative data correlation: each day in the hospital costs an average of $4,700 (including one sleepless night and a choice of sepsis or C.diff), and 20% of that is the cost of billing.

Thirdly, a great book produces epiphanies in its readers. My sleep app registers movement: a remote proxy from EEG. My blood pressure monitor uses the oscillometric method, not arterial blood pressure. Synthetics and proxies are creating more standard deviations between us and reality.

The last chapter of the book is about empathy. For Topol, AI brings us the gift of time. The average length of a clinical visit is seven minutes, but the physician will interrupt you within an average of 18 seconds because they want to cut to the chase and go back to the computer to do their job as data entry clerks for the industry. We can change that. We can bring back the doctor; we can de-mechanize them.

Humans will need to evolve along a different path from machines and become more human while machines should become more like machines. The gift of time is upon us.

AI is just here to help.


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