Gen Med

Hippocratic Values and Modern Medicine

August 27, 2020

Featured Physician: Ingrid Vasiliu-Feltes, MD, MBA

Featured Article: Was Hippocrates a Healthcare Futurist?

Dr. Ingrid Vasilieu-Feltes is a physician and healthcare futurist with the right combination of vision and management skills to lead healthcare into the future. She has extensive experience in the healthcare industry as a founder, executive, consultant, and speaker for many innovative technology-based health care enterprises. After medical school, Dr. Vasilieu-Feltes completed her residency and fellowship training in Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeon, and went on to earn her Executive Masters of Business Administration degree in 2011 from the University of Miami Herbert Business School. She holds special expertise in medical technology, blockchain, and fintech as they apply to healthcare.

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes recently wrote a widely acclaimed article about health care futurism in which she explored the idea that Hippocrates himself was a futurist of his day. Hippocrates was a Greek physician who lived in the years 460 BC to 380 BC. He is considered the Father of Modern Medicine, and it was truly under him that medicine started to become the healing art and science that it is today. He also helped to first establish the foundations of medical ethics, which hold great importance in today’s world.

In this interview, Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes highlights some key points from her article that illustrate the importance of bringing Hippocratic values and physician values to health care technology.  We are certain these topics will be of great interest to many readers, both physicians and patients, who are interested in health and wellness.

What is the Future of Medical Technology?

myDoqter: Technology is rapidly changing the infrastructure of medicine and we are hopeful it will add tremendous efficiency and power. But so far, technology seems to be extremely burdensome for physicians. How do we ensure that the technology is ultimately a resource that is helpful, and not a barrier to patient care? And what do you see as the role for physicians here?

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes: It is my belief that technology can actually become a catalyst for the future of medicine and facilitate the important contributions that physicians make to society. In order for this to happen we must embrace technology, change our medical education system and create a patient-centric healthcare culture. This could be accomplished by inclusion of digital health in the medical school curriculum and training programs, as well as redesigning healthcare delivery models with a human-centered approach.

What is Hippocrates Famous For?

myDoqter: When we think of Hippocrates and the oath we pledge as doctors (known as the Hippocratic Oath), we often think of the expression “do no harm”, but what does the Hippocratic Oath actually say and what does it really stand for?

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes: The Hippocratic oath aims to set a code of ethical standards for physicians and was created by Hippocrates of Kos – a physician who lived in ancient Greece from 460 BC to 380 BC. It requires physicians to first “do no harm” (above all), and it outlines a series of additional ethical behaviors that are considered the tenets of medical professional conduct, such as the respect for the profession and for the teachers of medicine, as well as the respect and protection of patient information and confidentiality.

Hippocrates, Futurism, and the Future of Healthcare Technology

myDoqter: As you mention in your article, Hippocrates was one of the founders, if not THE founder, of Western Medicine, and he moved Medicine to a scientific paradigm from the status quo of the time. We can extrapolate that he would also embrace the standards of science and technology today. How do you think he would also bring the values of Medicine and the Hippocratic Oath into today’s world?

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes: Given the fact that Hippocrates was well trained in numerous scientific disciplines, I believe that he would be a proponent of an “exponential medicine” mindset which is defined by a cross- and inter-disciplinary approach, and he would leverage the technological advances from all disciplines in order to optimize global population health.

Why is the Hippocratic Oath Important Today?

myDoqter: One problem we are facing is that technology and business interests do not have a Hippocratic oath while, at the same time, they largely govern the standards of care and practice of medicine today. Should these companies also take the oath or do you have other suggestions for upholding the Hippocratic values of Medicine?

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes: I have been a strong advocate and ambassador for business ethics, bio-medical ethics and digital ethics. Only by embedding ethical standards deeply and proactively into how we do business (including the business of medicine), we can achieve the desired public health outcomes and long-term sustainability.

myDoqter: So if you were going to write the draft of the updated version of the Oath of Hippocrates today, what are the top three elements that you would incorporate?

Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes: All 3 elements that I would include are related to digital-ethics and bio-ethics, and they would provide guidance regarding Data Ownership, Body Autonomy and Digital Identity. These three elements have become acutely relevant with the advancements that we see in technology today, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Genomics, Body Implants, Brain-Computer Interfaces and 3D Transplants, among many others.

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