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Cover Focus | Apr 2016

Let’s Get Digital

Born in September 1981, I am, by definition, a millennial. I am one of the 80 million 15- to 35-year-olds who, as Jeffrey L. Martin, MD, points out in his article on page 68, account for more than US$200 billion in spending power.

If you are a refractive surgeon, I am likely in your target demographic. If you are a cataract surgeon, it is more likely that my parents and grandparents are in your target demographic. Either way, it is imperative that today, in order to stay in competitive practice, you embrace digital health care.

As digital natives, we millennials are pretty much always connected. On our phones, our tablets, and even on our comparatively clunky computers, we find any number of ways to stay updated on current events, educate ourselves, and share—or, arguably, overshare—with our peers. We embrace technology and are always on the lookout for the next big thing.

But these tech-savvy and digital media–driven personality traits are not confined just to the millennial generation. My 40-year-old, generation X husband, for instance, probably spends more time with his head buried in his digital devices, reading the latest articles and refreshing his news feeds, than I do (although he would undoubtedly argue that he doesn’t). Likewise, both my mom and dad, who are 58 and 61 years old, respectively, spend a considerable amount of time on their smartphones, doing anything from lurking on Facebook to reading articles on sports, politics, and health-related issues.

In my mind, perhaps the most noticeable difference among our three generations (millennial, generation X, and baby boomer) is how quickly we adopted these technologies as well as digital media. Now that we are all accustomed to this way of living, it would be hard for any of us to give up our handheld devices or disconnect from the digital world.

That is why digital health care is so important today: because it can be pertinent to nearly everyone. Digital health care is a relatively new field that, when incorporated into one’s practice, could mean the difference between being a leader in the field and being left behind. With this in mind, CRST Europe put together a series of articles that aims to overview patient education and care in the digital age.

Although my grandparents still have their trusty flip phones, just about everyone else I know—and probably those you know, too—have gone digital. n

— Laura Straub, Editor-in-Chief