Feature: A Look Back at Predictions from 1991

Throughout 2015, ACP is celebrating its centennial and the progress of medicine over the last 100 years. Many advances in medical technology that are now standard processes and procedures actually were once just a small idea and a glimmer of the future. In the 1991 book, A Decade of Decision: A Physician Remembers the American College of Physicians, 1977-1986, Dr. Robert H. Moser, former Executive Vice President of the College, commented on what he thought the future of medicine might hold:

"Fact: The computer era is dawning. Despite the uneasiness of my generation, it is an undeniable fact that within 10 years the complexity of interacting with a computer will have disappeared. The intimidation of the keyboard will vanish when voice-activated instruments will provide easy access to the wisdom of the world-vast libraries of information will be at your beck and call-and all available in real time. To use the computer will be as easy as using your telephone. Cunning micro devices will be available at your elbow accompanied by laser disc-activated screens that will provide color, pictures and graphs. Print journalism will be for archives and more reflective reading. The capability to reproduce articles---even whole books in print size and page size on good stock for traditional arm-chair reading will be producible at the touch of a button. Real time information about the immediate clinical problems of patients will become available. Consultation with renowned experts will be at your fingertips-if you subscribe to the service. Just as you subscribe to Annals."

...."It goes without saying that medical education also will move to the periphery. Just as patient care is moving peripherally. We must continue to explore rapidly evolving new dimensions in education. Our Circuit courses will multiply and thrive, computer teaching and testing, either by network or disc, utilizing MKSAP as a prototypic vehicle, admirably lends itself to this new electronic environment. It is only a matter of time before we will have electronic textbooks of medicine and journals to provide answers to medical questions in real time. As I indicated earlier, soon we will have the mechanism to respond to clinical questions asked by physicians in remote comers of the earth, answered by world famous consultants-with x-rays and scans, bone marrow smears and what have you, transmitted via high resolution screens through laser video discs. Can you imagine the cosmic leap in improved quality of care if a physician in Point Barrow, Alaska, can get a response from the best minds in the country-in real time!"

Dr. Moser accurately predicted a number of intriguing advances and already we have gone well beyond his predictions in a number of areas. As ACP celebrates a century of advancement in medicine and medical education, just consider what the next 100 years might hold. It is truly astonishing. ACP wants you to share your predictions and vision for medicine by entering the IMpact Essay Contest: Medicine in the year 2115. Learn more.

Excerpted from Moser, Robert H. "Epilogue." A Decade of Decision: A Physician Remembers the American College of Physicians, 1977-1986. Philadelphia, PA: American College of Physicians, 1991, pps. 270-272.

Back to May 2015 Issue of IMpact

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