Could a Smart Phone, Apps, Texts and Social Media be the Future of Medicine?
With Obama's new Health Care Bill passage and the ongoing innovations in technology, one wonders if there can be a synchronization between medicine, health care (slow to adopt technological change) the digital revolution and wireless technology. Dr. Eric Topol, former chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (established to apply genetic discoveries to personalized medicine) and current vice chairman of the West Wireless Health Institute believes such a melding is possible and in fact affirms it is upon us. Topol who is investigating the use of wireless technology in the delivery of health care has written "The Creative Destruction of Medicine," a book that offers an illuminating perspective on the coming digitization of health care.
In online reports and on Youtube, Dr. Topol has gone on the record discussing how medicine whether it's mass screening or giving the same medication to all people with a particular diagnosis doesn't recognize the individuality of people and this is its major flaw. He is quick to note it is a huge flaw because now there are tools to do much better, in other words to see each individual's body uniquely for what it is and not paint with an incredibly large brush treating all patients the same which in many instances leads in costly, ineffective health care and side effects for medications improperly given.
He also has pointed out an additional problem with medicine and health care in that the field "has resisted a truly remarkable digital infrastructure to the nth degree. It hasn't really embraced genomics, wireless biosensors or advanced imaging that could be used to make medicine more precise." Nor has it embraced social networking.
Dr. Topol is very specific about how the medical technology can be adapted to health care through wireless connections. Biosensors applied to the body can be used to measure any physiological condition a doctor might want to know about his patient, for example blood pressure, glucose levels, oxygen concentration in the blood. This information or data set can be sent on their smartphone to a patient's doctor. According to Topol, the doctor and patient can then more easily and efficiently assess and manage the patient's disease and optimize and maintain their health and even to a large extent the patient can direct their own care.Continued on the next page