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'Coma' author Robin Cook muses on murder, medicine and harrowing healthcare

Those familiar with the blood-chilling thrillers of Robin Cook, whose 33rd book "Cell" was just released, view him as one of the leading medical mystery authors. What many don't realize: There is an M.D. in his name, and Dr. Cook initially made his decision to become a writer when he was still in medical school. In a recent interview with Medscape, Dr. Cook mused about the world of healthcare as well as murder, medicine and the media.

One word for Robin Cook: Murder!
Robin Cook

"I hadn't been in medical school that long before realizing that in some sense I had been duped," says Dr. Cook, perhaps most famous for his book "COMA."

How was he duped?

"I had absorbed the media's portrayal of medicine," Dr. Cook now declares. But in contrast, he discovered that the competition was so intense that "my sense was that this probably was not the best way to train doctors. I thought, 'Someday I'm going to write a book about the way medicine really is, and hopefully it will be even a movie.'"

Now his new book, "Cell," delves into truth-is-stranger-than-fiction realm that has become modern medicine. And Dr. Cook predicts that even more changes are in store.

Medicine is about to undergo an enormous change, to me it's really surprising how few people are anticipating that change, even in our own profession. In the medical profession itself, I have this sense that people really don't know what's coming, and they're still doing the same things that they shouldn't have done in the past.

As an example, Dr. Cook points to the difficulty in contacting the doctor.

"Most doctors have erected this ability to shield themselves, so that whenever you call the office you always get the receptionist or you're lucky to get the nurse. The doctor, well, he's very busy. Doctors are not making themselves available," he points out.

And as a result of this reality, "even doctors today don't realize that most people are no longer trying to call their doctor. They're going on the Internet. They're going on the Internet or on social media."

Thus "Cell" was born, a recognition on Dr. Cook's part that "the solution to the primary care physician is going to be the smartphone, because it's not just an app to monitor your blood pressure. And it's not just an app to take a picture of your ear so that the doctor can look at it. The cell phone can do all of these things together, and why not?"

His prediction:

Nanotechnology is coming down the line. It is advancing so rapidly, particularly with wireless sensors, etc., that you have the convergence of all of these things. I woke up in the middle of the night and said, "The cell phone is going to be the doctor."

But of course "Cell" contains more than that futuristic solution. The hair-raising tale includes an insurance company which owns a smartphone entity with avatars. With murder and mayhem, Dr. Cook proudly says it fulfills his goals: "We like to be scared a little bit. We like to have a certain amount of mystery. We like to like the person."