Brave New World for Empowered Patients
The brave new world of digital medicine is coming about by the convergence of three rapidly evolving technologies – IT, or informational technology, involving wireless signaling, cloud computing and most particularly, the spread of even more sophisticated smartphones; medical applications of nanotechnology; and the progressively lower cost and availability of genome sequencing.
Robin Cook, MD, and Eric Topol, MD, “How Digital Medicine Will Soon Save your Life, “ Wall Street Journal, February 23-23, 2014
Don’t get too far ahead of the parade that people don’t know you’re in it.
John Naisbitt, Mindset! 2007
Amidst all the health care turbulence, the disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov, the politic turmoil over ObamaCare, the call by Larry Kudlow for a three year moratorium on the health law, there is another school of thought: that somehow medical innovation will save the day and the health system and patients empowered by all knowing, all connective smart phones, will step in and save the day – and the health system.
Don't Count on It Soon
Don’t count on it in the near future. As Doctor Topol, a cardiologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego noted in his book, The Creative Destruction in Medicine (Basic Books, 2013), it sometimes takes 17 years for big innovations to filter down to the level of practicing physicians. This may not be true in the age of instant messaging as indicated by Facebook’s acquisition of Whats.com for $19 billion, but other factors ought to be considered.
How Soon Is "Soon"
It may be that “when you wake up with chest pain, your smartphone rads your ECG. If it’s a heart attack, it calls an ambulance and sends your data ahead to the ER.”
I hope so and I pray so, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen “soon.”
In the meantime, it may be worthwhile for physicians and patients to heed the slogan of the Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, “The impossible we do immediately, miracles take a little longer.”
Tweet: Patients empowered with smartphones may transform “sick care” to “health care,” to immediately save lives, but it will take a few years for this to become a reality.