Exponential information growth in medicine with Junaid Kalia MD
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Exponential information growth in medicine with Junaid Kalia MD

Information is growing exponentially. Knowledge, which lives inside people, is bounded. The challenge is updating that knowledge based on the latest relevant information.
 
Junaid Kalia has some great methods for this, based on his experience in neurology. We also talk about spaced repetition, intentional learning, deliberate practice and a simple lifelong learning habit you can follow.
 
 
Find out more about Superlearning at https://superlearners.traverse.link/.
 
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Okay. Hello and welcome to another episode in the super learning professionals podcast. Today, I'm joined by Junaid. Who's also a fellow in my course creator fellowship. So welcome.
Hi, Dominic. Thank you so much for inviting me on your video podcast. Thank you. A
All right, Junaid. So you're a medical professional and you have a lot of other activities as well.
So could you give a short introduction?
Hey,
so I'm actually by training a neurologist, specializing in neuro critical care stroke and epilepsy. The other thing I do from an entrepreneurship perspective as a vice president of clinical strategy of VeeMed, which is a telehealth company. And last is that I .have a passion for learning and teaching. So I have a AI neurocare academy to teach future physicians and current physicians about artificial intelligence in healthcare virtual care, digital medicine, value based care and neurology.
Nice. So that's a very broad spectrum areas of knowledge and expertise, but maybe you can expand a bit more on that and explain why knowledge management is especially important in those.
Traditionally, when we think of knowledge is what we think of facts and data or information that is extremely important. But if you really look at it the way the knowledge is tremendously increasing, as a matter of fact, there is an estimate that medical knowledge doubles every three months, that's an exponential growth that you can never really catch up.
So when you really have is it's not about knowledge doubling it's actually data and information doubling. What you need to do is turn that data, that information into actual knowledge, there are multiple ways to do it. One of the ways is to actually make sure that the amount of information that you're taking in is applicable.
And that's where critical thinking comes in and it's directly affecting your patient care or your direct effecting your output. And that output could be anything. It could be a video podcast, it could be a painting, or it could be taking care of patients. The information is that we're living in it is extremely doubling.
So the idea is that we are all it will, it be are all, literally, everyone is in an information age previously, we used to call just medicine and lawyers like this is a practice of medicine or practice of law, and the reason behind the practice portion of it is literally because of that. There's so much information that is coming in.
There's so much update of knowledge that goes in. You have to be constantly practicing that particular skill and constantly learning that particular skill again and again, that you are able to maintain a good best practice method of providing care. Now within the new information age that applies to everyone and you, me, a teacher, a student, even as simple as car mechanics, they have all these new models coming out.
They have to learn about every new model the chips are different. The lights are different, the tires are different. So there's so much abundance of knowledge that comes with every craft that we do. I think everything is now a practice and knowledge management is the key issue underlying every skill traditionally that was for medicine and law.
And now it is applicable to everyone.
Yeah. Well, let's first talk a bit about your personal learning journey. So how did you get to your current expertise and what obstacles did you face and what was the path that you took?
So I wear three hats, as I said. So number one is purely medicine. Medicine is a gruesome grind journey of 12 years of training in which you are actually constantly learning and applying, learning, and applying, learning, and applying. And there's a way that it's traditionally set up, which by the way needs a total disruption because and the way we are educating our physicians has to change.
And that's why I'm creating this academy myself. But that was purely in a way that you would have to study to pass exams. So that was one method. Number two, learn to apply directly for the patient knowledge because that's a little different pathway. And then lastly, Create a system that you are absolutely learning again and again.
So that's number one, bucket. Number two would be entrepreneurship. And then lastly, we can go to the creator site, but let's just talk about medicine for a second. So in medical school, you're basically studying and studying is one of the ways that we actually do is, probably your app is basic repetition and spaced repetition, where you are able to regurge facts, information and knowledge. And that's where the key issue comes in is to actually systematically study in a way that you have one outcome that is the result. And the best way was spaced repetition. The second one that we go through is lifelong learning or making sure that you're providing the best care for your patient. One of the ways to do so is first and foremost, to select the knowledge you want to get at and make sure that you have the variability of the knowledge that you're going to get. Let me give you an example. So neurology has many sub fields stroke and neuro critical care specialists, and then epilepsy, which is a different specialty.
But then there's other parts of neurology that I don't frequently practice neuromuscular disorders, spinal cord injuries. I mean, I do spinal cord injury, but what I'm trying to say is there many facets of it, but you have to make sure that you maintain all the level of facets that comes through it, because the expectation is that even if that patient doesn't directly have a neuromuscular disorder, I would at least be able to direct it to a neuromuscular specialist.
So you have to layer up knowledge in a way. You attain and maintain that level of competency in different sub specialized fields as well, which are within your domain. So the best way to do it is for us, this has been scientific journals, and there's also quite a bit of variability, but number one, books are dead.
Books are actually just a snapshot in time to give you a review in 1997, that was scientific. We don't really read books anymore. We come to Published articles, which are review papers, which is again, a snapshot in time that every two years or so, that gets updated. So my preference always has been that we look at review papers of the scientific information, and I made sure that I have a reading list and it's an 18 month or 12 month curriculum.
Lifelong learning in neurology, which is an American academy of neurology. I follow similar stuff and they have like month of May, will be stroke. Month of June will be neuromuscular. So I have a process that I made very religiously follow to make sure that I am competent in all this neurology. So that's how you actually get to this and you have to be very deliberate and very intentional about it, because if you're not, then you're not going to be the best practicing doctor.
And that is the key because lives matter. So it's very important that we do that. As a matter of fact, continued medical education is part of the whole licensing process as well, to make sure that the physicians are abreast with the latest information.
Yeah, definitely.
So yeah, you mentioned a couple of things there, so you have to be deliberate and intentional about what you learn.
So how do you go about choosing what to learn? And then once you've chosen that, how do you learn that? Like you mentioned spaced repetition, which might be interesting to explain a bit more, how that process works. Okay.
So when you have the lifelong learning process, the more important thing is, is fundamental learning.
The Feynman technique. You have to get the concept and then you have to apply it. It is not about actual factual retention. It is more about critical thinking while you're learning. And that process is a little different as compared to spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is important still in some of the cases that we work.
Like for example, some of the medications that I joined generally use, let's say I have 20 medications that I generally use and there are other 50 of them that I don't generally use. If I had made cards of it and then just had a space repetition, I could easily come up with doses, you know indications, et cetera.
And once, whenever I have to choose it, I can come from memory. But to be honest with you now, with the modern tools on your iPhone and everything, you don't really need that. As I said, information is more accessible. The more important thing is turning it into knowledge. How do you apply it? And that's where the Feynman technique of first principle is and reiterating and revising it.
That's. So though, a space repetition is not the flashcard system. It is more of like you know, one year curriculum to review the whole neurology again, with a systemic fashion of one month dedicated for stroke and neurocritical care. Or you have, you know, a bunch of review articles that you're always reading to make sure that you are spaced repeating because every time you do a review article, it reviews the past and then takes your knowledge a little further.
So it's kind of a spaced repetition by itself, but it's a little different, it has to have critical thinking built into it again, that intentionality is very important.
Yeah. This,
this critical thinking is very important. So do you have a system for that? For choosing what to learn and which direction to pursue
that's where they open up the avenues, right?
When you are actually let's say doing a review article or a blog post, let's say in general, it will have links, right? This is where I got the information. This is where I got the link from. You have to sometimes go deeper. You have to check out that link and make sure that the information is correct, because to be honest with you, I'm very being a doctor we have to verify everything, but either way, even in general in life, you have to go and verify that a, is it good enough information?
Or actually it is very interesting. And I have to read in depth about it. Let's say artificial intelligence. I just literally last night sat to read one article about transfer learning. I ended up reading for one and a half hours just because they're because of the rabbit hole that it takes you into so one of the things that you have to make sure is that, that now I feel like, well, was it important?
No, I should have more intentional learning. I should have a system of articles collected, I should have notes taken out with it and make sure that this information is captured and utilized in a way that I can teach again. So that's where the teaching portion also really comes in very handy, because if you learn with a mindset of a teacher that you have to teach again then you learn very differently and very intentionally, I think one of the biggest tips I would say is that when you are reading in an app, then you have to apply it think of it that you have to teach it.
Yeah, I think that's, that's a great tip. I think I heard they also teach it like that in medical school. Like, like you see one, then you do one and then you teach one. I think it's the, it's the principle, right?
Correct. And the idea behind it is again that until, and unless you, as a practice, you have to apply it right away.
If you do not do it, then you will not be able to engage the whole brain, literally fear, like I'm talking and I'm using my hands, there is no need for using my hands. The expressibility of the human condition when you're engaging the whole different parts of the brain, the visual cortex, the auditory cortex, the motor cortex, literally you're really engaging the whole neuronal network.
And that connection is when it continues to make up you actually have deeper learning. And even if you can't regurgitate the facts, you will have a very profound understanding to apply that knowledge.
How can we actually be a bit more intentional about visualizing this and actually activating, like our very powerful visual cortex tool to learn stuff?
One of the things that I let's say, there's a very important book. I'm going to actually read the book right. I'm going to, that's my visual cortex. I'm going to do an audio book of that because then it's my auditory cortex. And then I take notes. That's my motor cortex. So it depends on the importance of that subject that you want to do.
You're not going to do that for all the material you have to have. Speed reading. I mean, some of the material that I read, I read at 12 to 1800 words per minute, because I have so much background, knowledge that I can skim through, but there's stuff that I have to, you know, go back to a hundred words per minute and sometimes vocalize it to actually make sure that I do understand it.
So systems differ with your intention, but it is important that you first, have the outcome in mind. That's the key thing. The minute you pick something. You have an understanding what you want to achieve from it. And the minute you do that, just answer one simple question. Hey, I'm doing this because of..
And the minute you do that, your intention will change. And the minute you have that intention, you will know, okay, you get the deeper focus, you get the result you were wanting to have. It is very powerful because it becomes fundamental to yourself, to why it's important to you. It's a psychological thing.
Yeah. I love that. That also connects maybe a bit to like your, your personal story. Maybe if you want to tell a bit more on how you got into it's like meta learning thing, it's like personal learning challenges that you have overcome in the past.
Personal story is different because when I, when I become from a very business family, as a matter of fact, I'm the first physician.
Family. And when I actually announced my dad, wasn't happy because he was like, oh, you're the firstborn son in a Pakistan patriarchal society. You need to continue with the business. But you have to convince them. But the reason that I chose medicine was because of three reasons. Number one was that, you know, I feel like it is something worth doing, I mean, saving lives.
It's not the TV version, but anyways, it's good enough. And then the second thing is I am, I was like a voracious learner. I mean, I've been reading for my life, not fiction mainly nonfiction and I would, I would get bored with a field that is not actively in, you know changes going in and that's, that's the main reason I chose medicine in the first place and neurology in the second place, because cardiology, we had significant breakthroughs when I joined medicine, the two areas that we're really going through, like where are we going to see the most amount of change has been neurology and oncology. So between those two choices, I chose neurology. And that is again, it's your personality that you're going to choose. So that's number one. The second thing is that I'm going to be very honest with you. I had a significant problem with test performances and one of the key things that I realized is that when you are a reader, when you are an ultralearner or whatever you want to call it, you know, information that is, that is because you have read research papers, you know, more information than The actual test expects you have. So for example, if you're doing a multiple choice question, you actually know that this paper got released a month ago and now B is the correct answer and not the C. So I had to go back and make sure that I take the test. I had to make sure that there is an expectation, that they have, that we are going to just use guidelines. We're going to just use textbooks. And that may be five years older than maybe three years old or whatever. When I set my mind back there and I said, you know what, this is what their expectation is and when I reset myself, then I was able to perform very good on the test taking. The reason I bring this up is again, the same point of intentionality. The minute you learn intentionally with a single focus in mind, and what is the outcome. The minute you have that outcome in mind, your performance significantly changes. And that's how I personally came you know, overtook my learning one learning challenge, which still remains by the way.
I hate multiple choice questions and everything, but that's my Achilles' heel. But I try and that's one of the things that I've learned that helps me when I really have to pass an exam or something.
So in your work, how do you inspire others that you work with? Like your employees to be as active and as deliberate about learning as you are.
We live in a strange world now. So I come from a humble family from Pakistan and I never had too much access, but I was grateful that my dad paid for a private school. And as you can see, I have a reasonable amount of English skills as well because of that, what I realized when I was in what we considered educated societies, the first thing when they greeted each other, after the first question. I mean, nowadays it's different, but you know, they used to ask, what are you reading these days? That was a standard question to ask when you, like back 15 years ago, it was such an important thing that, you know, even if you're reading for pleasure or reading for, you know not pleasure, but that was like a question to ask, Hey, what are you reading?
This has significantly changed. Of course. Right? I mean, we have a cultural shift going on. I mean, it's not that it's just reading. It's just that the whole process was about learning how you're productive in life. And you could take different sessions, right? I mean, you can be productive through YouTube videos, but that was like a societal expectation with educated class back in Pakistan.
So what I do is actually that simple. So for my medical students, the expectation is very simple. You have to learn three new things per day. It doesn't matter if you don't feel like it's neurology, that's fine. Learn cardiology, learn oncology, learn anything, but the next day you have to come and you have to tell me the three things you learned.
It has very different benefits in that it's just basically a habit creation method of learning itself. Like you cannot go to sleep without learning three new things in your life. That students, I mean, you can basically do it quite often. As far as employees are concerned, I'm wearing my entrepreneurship hat. I think there are three things that I employ. Number one, I engage. And I inspire them that, Hey, look, this is what I learned. This is so cool. So that's very important. Number two, I give them different methods of educating themselves. It could be audio video and you know, a paper. So the question really is that some people learn differently.
Some people learn with audio, some people learn with video. To be careful for everyone's need, especially in an employee setting. When I work in a startup that you have different mediums of education transportation, let's say, and this way you can inspire employees. And lastly, I mean, for my children, right?
I mean, that's the most important thing. I make sure that, you know, I sit down most of the night read a book and make sure that they understand still the feeling of a book, the feeling of a page and understand the importance of it. So when you don't have expectations that are directly related to a grade or a paycheck, then you just have to inspire.
And the best way to inspire someone is by example,
definitely one thing you mentioned there is building these active habits of learning every day. Is that something that's because a lot of people struggle with building that habit, right? Is there any tips that you have around actually getting that learning habit?
The one thing that habit that actually really helped me is that before I go to sleep, I actually identify one piece of information that I have to review tomorrow morning, fresh out of the mind and then fresh out of the system. So I have this list, then the first thing in the morning, when I wake up, I have a brain dump because you know, All these ideas in your head.
I just always pick up a pen and a paper and just write literally, and you can save it if you ever want to do it journaling, I think that's a great idea. I don't, but either way, I just discard it, but I see a page and this actually tells me first, what are the different ideas that are disconnected that I can connect.
And then I go back to the original plan. My morning routine includes one piece of information deliberate learning. And the minute you start your morning, that way, then you are actually in the mode of learning the whole day, or at least susceptible to, or able to learn during the day, the whole process of the day.
Because if you don't start the morning, right, without learning then it becomes really hard, that's number one. Number two is any free time you have. If you're going to go for a walk, then use audiobooks. If you're going to, you know, For example, a commute, you know, you can use some, some other forms of things every time it's no longer needed.
But one of the habits that I had back in medical school was always have a book with you. Right. You never traveled without a book. And the reason you never travel without a book was because you never know you're going to be stuck in a traffic for 20 minutes. What are you going to do? So nowadays, of course, whatever, whatever phones and everything, it's so much easier to carry around multiple books and you can just start reading right away or listening right away, which is either way is fine.
So that would be something that I would recommend highly that you know, and you can start enjoying it because learning is such an enjoyable.
Definitely. I really love that. I think that's very helpful. What do you think in your field is needed to keep benefiting from the growing amount of knowledge?
Like you explained some points, but what yeah. What would you like to see?
Well, actually, to be honest with you some of this will require additional help as a matter of fact We are developing systems. Like, I mean, when I work in artificial intelligence systems or developing expert systems, we are culminating knowledge and putting it together in a way that the data is turned into knowledge for the physician.
What they have to do is then turn that knowledge into wisdom with the increasing amount of data. At the end of the day, we are going to need help. So the biggest example, let's say IBM Watson, most people would probably know about it. It actually summarizes multiple texts of oncology, especially and give summaries applicable summaries to oncology physicians, because there are thousands of genetic variations and that could correlate with different hundreds of different medications.
So it's just not possible humanly to do it. So what I'm saying is that is that you have to now learn a new skill and that new skill is be comfortable with digital skills. And that's where I keep telling people, like, it's not about just knowledge, it's about a knowledge management system. So, therefore, you don't have to learn everything.
You just have to know how to retrieve everything. If need be with a fundamental first principle thinking level conceptual level is in place.
Yeah. I Like that. That's, that's really great stuff. So thank you, Junaid, for the interview. And then I would like to ask you, who do you think I should interview?
So two people.
I love the book by Scott Young called ultra learning. It's a fantastic book. He actually finished an MBA in one year or something and never had to pay a single penny to go to Howard. The way he goes through the journey is amazing. It essentially uses the very important concept that learning can be done anywhere.
It doesn't have to be in an academic Institute. It doesn't have to be in a university and learning shines, even if you don't have a degree. So I love that book because of those reasons. And then number two would be digital health entrepreneurship by Arlene Myers. He actually encompasses what I like to say is that how to be a digital doctor in the next century and this, this multiple skill levels that you're going to need to be successful in life is very important. So I would definitely follow them. Arley Myers has a very good Twitter and LinkedIn account and Scott Young of course, has a book that you can definitely read. And they're great. YouTube interviews. Yeah.
Awesome. Yeah. Maybe we can get them on as well. So thanks Junaid for the interview. And if people want to find out more about you, what's the best way for them to do so.
I think the best way is LinkedIn. And the second best way would be Twitter. Junaid Kalia search my name and then I on Google. And I think the LinkedIn profile comes in first because I'm quite active and regularly post, you know, information on it.
All right. Awesome. Thank you Junaid. See you. Thank you. Thank you very much for having me on. I really appreciate it.
 
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Information is growing exponentially. Knowledge, which lives inside people, is bounded. The challenge is updating that knowledge based on the latest relevant information.
 
Junaid Kalia has some great methods for this, based on his experience in neurology. We also talk about spaced repetition, intentional learning, deliberate practice and a simple lifelong learning habit you can follow.
Information is growing exponentially. Knowledge, which lives inside people, is bounded. The challenge is updating that knowledge based on the latest relevant information.
 
Junaid Kalia has some great methods for this, based on his experience in neurology. We also talk about spaced repetition, intentional learning, deliberate practice and a simple lifelong learning habit you can follow.

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