Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Peripheral Brain

Listen to my ReachMD segment on the Mobile Medical Minute radio series titled, "Your Peripheral Brain." Here's a brief description:
Today's physicians need to know so much medical information that many of us find it useful to supplement our human brains with electronic peripheral brains. Dr. Joseph Kim wonders if we should be concerned about our dependence on our peripheral brains— and tells you how to be prepared, in the event you ever lose that smart phone or device you depend on.
Today, most medical students and residents carry a PDA or smartphone as a “peripheral brain.” These electronic devices are rich with information because they are connected to the Internet. Are we growing too dependent on these devices? Or, has the wealth of medical information simply grown to surpass what we’re able to handle?
You’re listening to the ReachMD Mobile Medical Minute. I’m Dr. Joseph Kim.

Some of us trained in an era where we had no PDAs or smartphones. In fact, we carried a little notebook in our white coats and that book was our peripheral brain. We scribbled notes, looked at mini algorithms, and had charts and tables that listed critical life-saving measures. When we were in the hospital, we took that book everywhere.

Today, the FDA is constantly approving new drugs. We even see the creation of new drug classes and medical students and doctors are required to learn complex, new mechanisms of actions. Do we now live in an era where we can’t expect any physician to effectively practice medicine without an electronic peripheral brain that contains the wealth of information found on the Internet?

Smartphones are becoming mini computers. Mobile web browsers allow us to search on Google and read complete articles right in our hands. Our peripherals brains are becoming so powerful that we’re always able to find answers, anywhere, anytime.

What happens if we suddenly lose access to our peripheral brains? How much information are we retaining in our actual brains? Sometimes I wonder if we’ve grown too dependent on these mobile devices. If a catastrophe suddenly struck and we lost our electronics, would we still be effective clinicians? Or, have we grown so dependent on computerized clinical decision support tools that we would have trouble making important treatment decisions?

Can you imagine going through your work day without your smartphone or computer? Here’s a practical tip that can help you if you ever lose your smartphone: always store your vital information on a secure website that is password-protected. You’re leveraging “cloud computing” resources by doing this. In fact, you can even synchronize your information on the cloud with your smartphone, so your data is always backed up and accessible through any web browser.

I’m Dr. Joseph Kim, for the ReachMD Mobile Medical Minute — helping you stay smarter than your Smart Device. For more news and education, visit, and for more on mobile medical device, you can visit my blog,

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