New approach to medicine aims to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis

A new approach to healthcare called "Desktop Medicine" is emerging, in which the emphasis on diagnosing diseases and treating symptoms is shifted to identifying risk factors for medical conditions, such as hypertension and osteoporosis, and intervening before they develop. An article on the topic appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Desktop medicine," a model that has been defined by Jason Karlawish, an associate professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, involves doctors gathering risk factor information -from a patient's medical history, electronic medical records or recent office visit - and combining it with clinical studies about disease risk.

Once the patient's risk has been assessed, the physician can provide the appropriate preventive measure to curtail the onset of disease, rather than treat the condition once it is fully developed.

"Desktop medicine has substantial implications for how we ought to educate, train and practice medicine," said Dr Karlawish. "For example, medical training should teach how to help patients appreciate their relevant risks and manage these risks, as many patients fail to adhere to a long-term intervention intended to prevent disease." 

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