Dr. Bertalan Mesko, Science Roll
Aug 13, 2014
Dr. Bertalan Meskó is a medical futurist and founder of three different medical websites. Through these websites, Dr. Meskó tries to bridge the gap between the technology and healthcare. He has committed his life to improving the quality of the medical field and we were fortunate to being able to speak with Dr. Meskó about his career.
How did you decided on a career in medicine?
At the age of 6, I decided that I wanted to become a doctor in order to become a researcher focusing on genetics. My initial aim was to dedicate my life to science. The reason why I thought becoming a doctor was a crucial step was because I planned to do research on genomic applications patients can use in practice. I fulfilled this childhood dream although I was not totally satisfied after finishing my PhD, as the geek self in me was left out of the picture. Therefore I designed my own profession making me a medical futurist who deals with innovative technologies from the medical perspective.
What made you pursue a PhD in Clinical Genomics?
I fell in love with the area of genomics many years ago. Having a field of science that is both still in its baby shoes and has and endless number of opportunities to disrupt health care, was a challenge I liked to take. Working out blood tests which tell patients whether the expensive and invasive treatment they are about to receive would work for them individually or not, would add a significant advantage to practicing medicine. This is what we worked on during my PhD in autoimmune diseases describing the genomic background of responsiveness to therapies.
What changes do you believe would improve the quality of medical education?
Medical education cannot train medical professionals who will practice in the near future any more. Curriculums worldwide do not include digital literacy and future technologies, except at Semmelweis Medical School in Budapest, Hungary where I have been teaching students how to use social media, mobile health, wearable health trackers and what they should know about future, disruptive technologies for 8 years. This is the only way to prepare them for the future. Moreover, the experience of being a student should be expanded and educators should get involved more with their students. I communicate with my students during the semester online through Facebook challenges which can give them better results at the exams, and I constantly learn from them.
Scienceroll.com, my medical blog serves as a communication channel between my mind and the mind of thousands of experts worldwide. On Medicalfuturist.com, I select the most important news about the future of medicine every single day. On Webicina.com, we curate the world's best social media resources focusing on diseases and medical specialties with experts for free. The motivation behind all these is not to face any limitations in my professional life. If I need experts, curated content, resources or funding for any of my projects, I can crowdsource and crowd-fund these in no time. Although I have to note that it took years to be able to do that.
What changes do you think need to be made to bridge the gap between technology and medical education?
The tools and online resources medical students use are not included in medical curriculums. It is the same as saying that students read books for several hours a day, but the curriculum wants to give them the materials on stone tablets. My motto in teaching is "If you want to teach me, you first have to reach me." Therefore I go to teach where my students are. I designed an online course for them to assist their studies; and there is a Facebook challenge during which they compete against each other during the semester by answering questions we covered in the lectures. We have to create a network with students, learn from each other; and also try to prepare them for the future by actually showing them the gadgets and wearables they and their patients will soon use.