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Commentary
November 10, 2010

Desktop Medicine

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Departments of Medicine and Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 2010;304(18):2061-2062. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1624

Concepts of disease are essential for defining medicine. By the 20th century, the dominant concept was pathology in an individual, the foundation for the bedside model of medicine. Bedside medicine organizes the patient-physician relationship around the chief concern, which guides the focus of the history taking and physical examination; medical training that emphasizes laboratory-based sciences and a physical diagnosis; and a bedside presentation.

Today, however, a new model has emerged: desktop medicine. This term describes how a desk with a networked computer is transforming medical science and, in turn, medical practice. The desktop is the space in which researchers discover risk factor–based diseases and where physicians and patients go to gain information to diagnose and treat diseases. In developed nations, desktop diseases such as dyslipemia occupy a substantial portion of a physician's practice, are leading causes of morbidity and mortality, and have attracted the attention of policy makers. Medicare will soon require an annual personalized health risk assessment.1

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