Dubbed the "Sexiest Doctor Alive" by People Magazine, YouTube star and family medicine physician Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, better known as Dr. Mike, has taken to YouTube to dish out advice on health and debunk medical myths.
One of his recent YouTube videos put telemedicine under a microscope. In particular, it zeroed in on a study published by the Journal of Pediatrics, which found children using telemedicine were prescribed antibiotics at a higher rate than if they visited a doctor in person. In the video, which has over 190,000 views, he urges telemedicine physicans be held accountable for over prescription of medications.
This isn’t his only healthtech-focused video; he has also given his take on robots delivering medical news and the limits of technology in medicine.
This week the YouTube-famous doctor is dipping his toes further into the digital lens as he participates in the LINK20&MIT program put on by the Ruderman Foundation, aimed at giving social media influencers focused on health and inclusion a way to network and develop new strategies. The week-long program is hosted at MIT, and gives influencers courses on how to help grow their reach and advocacy efforts.
MobiHealthNews asked Dr. Mike about his thoughts on telemedicine, social media’s role in health education, and the future of medicine.
MobiHealthNews: I watched your video on telemedicine and I see you have a lot of concerns about the practice. I’m curious do you see a future for the technology? What do you think that future is?
Varshavski: Telemedicine has a bright future within the healthcare space. My primary concern with the technology is that it may be misused for commercial purposes or overused as a means of cost-cutting.
The future of the technology lies in increasing access to specialists, improved patient engagement, and at times decreasing costs. I do not believe in vilifying this emerging technology — instead, we should concentrate on being honest about its shortcomings and focus on utilizing its strengths.
MobiHealthNews: You talked a lot about the patient and provider experience. Where do you see technology’s role in enhancing this relationship? Where do you see technology as a hindrance?
Varshavski: When technology increases access and decreases barriers to quality physician advice, I consider that a win. Telemedicine, when used appropriately, is a prime example of tech that can make that happen. On the flip side, I do worry about how electronic health records are distracting physicians from the human in the room with them. It is essential that in creating software, we make sure that it does not impede the interaction that is mandatory for a satisfactory visit.
MobiHealthNews: As health tech progresses, are there any demographics that you see being left out?
Varshavski: I do feel that those over the age of 65 are at a disadvantage here because they did not grow up immersed in this type of technology. When a new health device comes to market, there is a slower rate of adoption for this demographic solely because of their lack of experience adopting new software/hardware.
MobiHealthNews: You use YouTube as a platform to inform the public about health. What do you see as social media’s role in health education in the future?
Varshavski: I believe that with over three billion people logged onto social media and with it impacting everything from elections to business strategy, health professionals should be taking note. As a family medicine physician, I know that it is largely ineffective to preach health advice in an authoritarian fashion. If I can meet my patients where they are (SoMe) and educate them in an engaging, unique, perhaps even an entertaining way, then I can begin to make a tangible impact on their health.
MobiHealthNews: Are there any technologies coming down the pipeline (AI, VR etc…) that you think are promising? Are there any others that you think are concerning?
Varshavski: I believe AI will be leading the charge when it comes to the future of the healthcare tech industry.; and I don't mean the type of AI pictured in sci-fi novels where robots replace doctors. This form of AI will focus on data management and research. Within medicine, information is king, and currently, our records and record systems are ancient in comparison to other emerging technologies. Being able to harness the power of data aggregation and organization will allow for better clinical care for all of our patients.