New Solutions For A New Age: Medicine

Guest Correspondence

BY DR. LARRY THOMPSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 28, 2019

I think we would all agree medicine is firmly entrenched in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) world. We want it to be like that. After all, I don’t want my doctor thinking creatively about where my kidneys might be relocated. So, does that mean there is no room for creativity in medicine? Of course not. As I have mentioned repeatedly, creativity is the most important skill for our future and should be infused into the teaching of all disciplines. Likewise, I believe creativity is an integral part of today’s $3.5-trillion U.S. health care industry.

As Dr. Niamh Kelly, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia puts it, “Patients and diseases do not come as prepackaged widgets. A slavish approach to standardized treatments without any creativity can do more harm than good.” Anokhi Saklecha, a medical student at the University of California, San Diego, writes on aspiringdocsdiaries.org “Medicine is a continuously evolving field ... Creativity will improve our abilities to design novel research experiments, determine complex medical diagnoses, communicate with team members, and interact with future patients.” She propounds that we cannot be afraid to venture outside the boundaries of the hard sciences.

At Ringling College of Art and Design, we already venture outside those boundaries. Through collaboration with Moffitt Cancer Center, the College is working to develop creative content for digital health-care technologies. “The collaboration with Ringling College will focus on the patient journey and how we can create meaningful tools to help decrease stress, enhance the understanding of upcoming treatments, and connect patients through survivor stories so they don’t feel so alone,” said Sarah Hoffe, M.D., Moffitt’s head of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology. As Morgan Woolverton, interim head of Ringling’s Game Art and Virtual Reality (VR) Development departments, says, we must “…use creativity to fill in the gaps of what is necessarily a human experience of healing and recovery.”

Virtual Reality also helps patients control pain during minimally invasive procedures. VR eases pain from burns and helps patients overcome balance and mobility problems resulting from a stroke or head injury.

Let’s think even further outside the box. What if you lived in a place where you did not have access to a doctor? How would you receive care? What if you and your doctor did not have to be in the same room? Or city? Or COUNTRY? People have been asking these questions and came up with an answer—virtual health care. This approach allows a doctor to engage with patients without being in proximity, and is quickly becoming a priority for health care systems. In an article on huronconsultinggroup.com, a recent survey showed 46% of leaders at large health care systems said telehealth was their top information technology priority, with 86% saying they expect to add some form of telehealth into their systems within the next three years. Here at Ringling College, we offer virtual health care service to employees in addition to the traditional health plan model.

Austin Hill Shaw at the TED MED 2012 event said, “Innovative minds are needed in every industry, and, perhaps most of all, in medicine. Just as there continues to be a need for innovation in health care, there continues to be a need for innovation and creativity in shaping the medical leaders of tomorrow.”

In an article on medicalbag.com, Joel Cooper, DO, notes, “While most of us think of creativity as something reserved for music, writing, theater, cinema, painting, dance or theoretical physics at the highest level (e.g., Einstein’s theory of relativity), creativity is a viable tool that both individuals and organizations can use daily to improve their performance and competitive advantage. And whether we hear it or not, the U.S. health care system is crying out for less sameness, less status quo, and more creativity.”

The Creative Age is upon us. Its leaders will be those who can think creatively and are able to use technology in novel ways to solve problems. Through this series so far, we have seen creativity is integral to building community, protecting the environment and enhancing health care. Just imagine what else we can accomplish, overcome or solve with our creative thinking.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design.

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