Modern medicine has fixed its own birth date around the last years of the 18th century. The healthcare-patient interface must have gone through significant changes as caring for the sick emerged from being a noble mission, evolved into a consulting profession and advanced to its current standing as healthcare system. This commentary examines the reasons for the paradox of the growing discontent with modern medicine against the backdrop of one of the most impressive epochs of medical achievements in the past fifty years. While reliance on a decidedly technological base has been charged with weakening the humane face of today's biomedical science by some, the tangled interconnectedness that the health delivery system has introduced into its complex organizational structure is pointed out by others. The role and effectiveness of ‘patient-centered care’ as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and implemented by some hospitals and academic medical centers are reviewed. The question of the disturbing incidents of preventable medical errors recurring with alarming frequency and some of their remedial measures are examined with the observation that just as it is crucial to address technical and safety issues in the healthcare environment, it is equally important to pay attention to patient experience issues. Finally, the serious consequences of the ‘healthcare vs medical care’ schism pervading the minds of health policy makers in India are highlighted. The essay concludes with a brief look at the healthcare scenario of the future with specific reference to the interface and the emerging trends in health communication through social networking and transactional models in our rapidly emerging ‘Connected Age.’
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