Leaders in Medical Education

Leaders in Medical Education - Dr. John Bennett, CEO at Internetmedicine.com

Jul 1, 2015

Dr. John Bennett is a native Floridian who attended Brown University for his premedical studies, and both The Medical College of Pennsylvania and Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara for his medical degree.

After a year as an orthopedic surgery resident, Dr. Bennett switched to Emergency Medicine, and eventually practiced in Florida. He is now a full-time digital entrepreneur, working on his website at Internetmedicine.com and affiliated TV websites. He is a big believer in Google Hangouts and in its ability to promote effective communication, education, and networking in Medicine.

You have an MD, what pushed you towards more digital endeavors?

I am a relatively late adopter of computers; I did not start until I was in my mid 50's (I am 65 now).

Mostly I got into it because I was building and renting houses in the Bahamas, so I learned how to build a website, how to promote, and about customer service.

I learned the importance of human communication, especially fast communication; quicker answers meant better business. I did this during a break in my career as an Emergency Physician. When I wanted to get back into medicine, because I was away a few years, I picked up Eric Topol's, The Creative Destruction of Medicine. Wow! I thought, medicine is changing, and it seems exciting! - Let me find a website that covers, at least superficially, the changes in the major areas of medicine, including specialties… I could find none.

So, I bought the domain name, InternetMedicine.com, since I felt that with all the changes, it might, some day, be a specialty in Medicine. I built a website covering medical devices, medical apps, the specialties, and what I call the "New Sciences" of Nanomedicine: 3D printing in Medicine, Genomics, Stem Cells, and Medical Robotics. Lots of exciting stuff is happening in all these areas.

You are a big believer and user of Google Hangouts. What are they and why are they important to you?

I would have been happy just to curate the stories I felt were important in the various niches of medicine, until I ran across Google Hangouts. It is an awesome tool, which I feel is going to get more powerful once its true innate potential is unleashed. Hangouts allowed me to engage the various niches, and got me back into the human side of education. It showed me its powers of networking, medical education, and basic communication. And Hangouts have introduced me to many great doctors across the globe - borders don't mean a thing, just Internet connections; the doc, wherever he or she is, is like next door, no matter where they are.

Where do you see Google Hangouts going in the future?

I think Google Hangouts will be a great tool for crowdsourcing medical information. They have the potential to form global communities in whatever the medial niche is, and allow for a convenient, easy exchange of such information in a human way. In addition, Hangouts leverage cross-disciplinary interaction; medical niches will more easily communicate with other niches. This fact is important regarding the “New Sciences". These new sciences can be integrated as needed into most medical niches, and the physician will be able to keep up, by hangouts, to learn the basics, and interact with fellow niche members who might have a background in that new science. The new science will gradually be integrated into that medical niche, and vice versa.  Hangouts will facilitate this, in a convenient manner, and the physician will not have to go to many conferences.

And that brings me to an area where I see a big impact for conferences. I was once asked by a conference in Indiana focusing on Google Glass in medicine to do a few hangouts, prior to the conference. I did fifteen - with physician users of Google Glass in many areas, from all parts of the world. This included docs that wanted to come to the conference, but could not. I foresee the days where docs will be able to go to many online mini-conferences. Not only that, but they will be able to maintain the contacts they met at that conference, through continuing hangouts in "channels".

So more or less, I feel a "Pre-Conference" and "Post Conference" series of Hangouts will gradually become more important and more used, which will result in a decrease in the need to physically go to conferences. As a matter of fact - you got me going here, I foresee the day, where there will be an Internet Television Medical Channel, like Crime TV. A 24-hour station, composed of a "Genomics Channel", etc. with educational medical broadcasts beamed from webinars, conferences, or presented from a medical university. And, brought to you by, "Medtronic Medical Device Company" or the like. Let's take a break from "Keeping up with the Kardashians".

What do you see are the greatest challenges of medical education today?

To me, in these digital days, it is editing your time. There is so much medical information out there, so many great apps, devices, websites, and learning programs that you cannot do it all, and so you have to pick and edit the good sources and stick with those. You cannot do it all. In addition, there are so many great medical education platforms out there. Take www.ReelDx.com, for example. It is an unreal platform, with actual videos of real patients in clinical situations. It is a fantastic way to learn on real patients from the comfort of your computer device. And there are many others. But physicians, I think, have always had to learn to budget their time, and in these digital days, it is tougher, but more necessary. Another challenge is to put digital tech in proper perspective.

It is simply a tool to help a doc get information and to get the best possible result with a real patient. Tech should not control the doc, the tech should be a slave to the doc, and not vice versa. In the end, it is the doc that is the decision maker, and Watson be damned, I doubt it will change in the near future. Watson is our slave. We are NOT Watson's slave. Watson can help us to arrive at a clinical decision, as will other factors. Compassion and intuition are part of any clinical decision. For example, there is an app that helps to diagnose concussions. I think trainers and sports docs must have laughed at having an app to tell them when an athlete is seriously "dinged". Experienced sports docs can see it, smell it, and don't need an app to tell them. And there are other serious similar clinical situations where an experienced doc uses his or her immeasurable "clinical intuition" that cannot be measured, or put into an algorithm.