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I don’t hide the fact that I am a dyed in the wool liberal. I read, and agree with, pretty much everything Paul Krugman writes. But, it’s rare for me to discover the kind of synergy between my Krugman-inspired ire over economic policy and politics generally and the e-Patient movement that I awoke to this morning. In today’s column, Krugman makes the point that higher education does not automatically guarantee a comfortable, moderate wage job. No big insight there, but his argument includes some subtle implications for medical care.

The kinds of jobs that we associate with college education and beyond are also being outsourced to technology. As an example,  Krugman points to a recent NYT piece on the role of software in analyzing legal documents. He also makes passing mention of computer assisted diagnosis in medicine. I’ve argued for a long time that much of what I do as a physician could be better done by either machines, or patients themselves. Taking that idea one step further, it’s clear that we’ll need fewer, not more, doctors in the future. I imagine that this morning Paul Krugman would agree.

Here’s a link to his column.


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