(On 25 December 2016, Lucien Engelen wrote this column for E52, the predecessor of Innovation Origins. Since then we repeat it every year at Christmas)
October 1995, Massachusetts, the Jackson twins were born, weighing two pounds each. Although alive, the staff was well aware of the fragility of the little patients. Technology and staff would be doing their utmost to increase chances both girls would make it. At one point after 3 weeks one of the girls suffered from serious complications with a lowering heart rate, respiration, and oxygen level. A nurse decided to put the healthier of the babies in the same incubator as her sister. What happened next is history and actually changed healthcare. When she wrapped her arm around her little sister in need, she instantaneously started to breathe normally, heart rate went up and her oxygen level started to rise again. The story hit the news worldwide and the picture above was on the covers of all the major magazines. At present the twins, grownup ladies, that are doing fine.
Stanford Physician Abraham Verghese in 2011 gave a talk at TED Global about the Doctors’ touch.
We have entered an era of the exponential growing technology that in some parts seems almost abundant. It is great to see the possible change that can come out of that, creating the opportunity to create sustainable health(care).
Researchers, doctors and nurses are embracing these opportunities with a technologically optimistic but scientific approach whilst never forgetting the impact the human touch can make.
On a day like today (Xmas-day) we should remember there is always a tradeoff between technology and ‘being there’. It isn’t a choice between the one ór the other, it’s always both.
Innovation Origins wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy 2020!