IntroductionWhat is the impact of technology on diagnosis?
Nearly 40 participants from across the UK joined the first in a series of ESRC-funded seminars exploring the role of diagnosis in health and wellbeing at Exeter on Monday. The series is a collaboration between Egenis, University of East Anglia, the University of Cambridge, the University of York and the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and will look at the social, economic and political costs and consequences of diagnosis from a social science perspective.
"Diagnosis, technologies and innovation" was organised by Dr Susan Kelly and Dr Michael Morrison of Egenis. "Early technological innovations such as the stethoscope, the scalpel and, later, x-rays did more than provide clinical input for the doctor," explains Dr Kelly. "They also became powerful symbols of the practice of modern medicine itself. Recent diagnostic technologies such as genetic tests or MRI scans are similarly transformative."
"These technologies are progressively redefining the parameters of disease. They are also shifting how diagnosis and related clinical work takes place, with technological views gaining supremacy over traditional clinical ones, and lay people using technology for self-diagnosis. As we gain the ability to peer into more and more previously hidden bodily realms, we obscure distinctions between risk of disease and the disease itself."
Key speakers included Professor Andrew Webster (York), Prof dr. Sally Wyatt (Maastricht) and Dr Katie Featherstone (Cardiff), discussing medical innovation processes, perspectives on the internet as an innovative health technology, and the construction of genetic syndromes as diagnostic practice, respectively. The discussions (provided by Professor Chris Hyde, Professor Nicky Britten and Dr Morrison) questioned the drivers and the consequences of innovations in diagnostic technologies and opened discussion of the degree to which these technologies are used and over-used, what sort of remedial technologies are appropriate, and how technology has affected how disease categories are understood by patients, physicians and the public. These themes will inform future seminars.
The next seminar, 'Theorising Diagnosis', will be held at the University of East Anglia on May 23, 2013. Further information about the seminar series, including registration and seminar materials, can be found on the project website.