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3 Things We Learned About Telemedicine from the Hippocratic Oath

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Nov 07, 2017 @ 06:00 AM

helloquence-51716-1.jpgThe pace at which medicine is changing makes your head spin.

When you consider that the first surgery under anesthesia was performed only 150 years ago, it’s shocking what competencies we have developed as a profession over that time.

But the truth is that the core nature of what we do has remained the same for thousands of years. The specifics, and technology, and lived reality has evolved dramatically, but the ethos, heart, soul, and discipline of the work is continuing.

I was especially struck by the reality of this “through line” of the continuity of medicine as I began to dig into the history of the Hippocratic Oath.

As you undoubtedly know, The Hippocratic Oath was written in the fourth or fifth century BC.  As Wikipedia says, “The Oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. Although the ancient text is only of historic and symbolic value, swearing a modified form of the Oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries.”

I’m fascinated both by the lasting nature of the Oath as well as by how it has evolved. It’s amazing that such an old document and set of concepts has stood the test of time for so long. (Although perhaps it could be said that many of our most foundational principles and books have lasted as long or longer.) 

The oath has evolved, as well. The version that is in use at many medical schools today was a version rewritten by Dr. Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University. The wording is different, but the spirit and even the content is ultimately almost identical.

Dr. Lasagna’s oath highlighted for us three aspects of the vow that really underlie what we do at ClickCare, and, interestingly, are the core of what telemedicine and healthcare collaboration are all about:

  • Collaborating with our colleagues and admitting when there are limits to our knowledge.
    “I will not be ashamed to say 'I know not,' nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.” The foundation of everything we do at ClickCare comes from the understanding that none of us is as smart as all of us. 
  • Respecting privacy.
    “I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know." This value is why iClickCare far exceeds the demands and standards of HIPAA compliance, though they are onerous. And it's why we've created a HIPAA-safe way for medical providers to collaborate with each other, that's as easy as a text message, but safe for our patients.
  • Learn and teach.
    “I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.” All cases in iClickCare are archived for future teaching cases. In a way never supported by video teleconferencing, Hybrid Store-and-Forward® telemedicine lets you nurture the next generation.

We're proud to be part of the lineage of doctors from Hippocrates to today. And we honor the continuation of that legacy, with the insights and tools that our contemporaries, like Dr. Lasagna, are contributing. 


ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: good medicine, healthcare collaboration

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