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September 6, 2016

Evolutionary Pressures on the Electronic Health RecordCaring for Complexity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Medical Disciplines, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • 2Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California
  • 3Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • 4The Program in Bedside Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA. 2016;316(9):923-924. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9538

Frances Peabody’s timeless lecture to Harvard Medical School students, published in JAMA almost 90 years ago,1 spoke of the complex and deeply human experience of illness, as epitomized by the powerful observation “for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”

Peabody emphasized how caring meant understanding for each patient how particular personal and emotional circumstances influenced his or her health. Today, clinicians encounter a level of complexity—co-occurring chronic and rare diseases, organ transplantation, artificial devices—that has completely altered the practice of medicine, while the personal experience of illness and the social context are as important as ever.

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