Thou shalt promote other bloggers’ posts.
22, 2012 – The following
post appeared in The Health Care Blog today.
Its title is “Medicine Unplugged,” An alternative title might be, “Act
Mobile, Think Global.”
“Just as the little mobile
wireless devices radically transformed our day-to-day lives, so will such
devices have a seismic impact on the future of health care. It’s already taking
off at a pace that parallels the explosion of another unanticipated digital
force — social networks.”
“Take your electrocardiogram on your
smartphone and send it to your doctor. Or to pre-empt the need for a consult,
opt for the computer-read version with a rapid text response.
with your vision? Get the $2 add-on to your smartphone and get your eyes
refracted with a text to get your new eyeglasses or contact lenses made.
suspicious skin lesion that might be cancer? Just take a picture with your
smartphone and you can get a quick text back in minutes with a determination of
whether you need to get a biopsy or not.
Does your child have an ear infection?
Just get the scope attachment to your smartphone and get a 10x magnified
high-resolution view of your child’s eardrums and send them for automatic
detection of whether antibiotics will be needed.
Worried about glaucoma? You
can get the contact lens with an embedded chip that continuously measures eye
pressure and transmits the data to your phone.
These are just a few examples of
the innovative smartphone software and hardware — apps and “adds”
technology — that have been developed and will soon be available for
“A recent mobile health report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers
documented that consumers want these new apps and add-ons for their smartphones
— but doctors are not enthusiastic. Why is that? From its inception, the
medical profession has been characterized by information asymmetry. Doctors had
control of all the data, information and knowledge. Not unlike the high priests
before the printing press, the medical profession did all the essential
The great inflection of medicine is about to empower consumers to be
able to read — not just a one-off measurement (like a blood pressure) but also
data for all their relevant physiologic metrics, continuously, on the go. It
will provide insights about each individual that we did not have before, such
as how blood pressure fluctuates during a stressful event or during sleep.
data will be graphed on one’s smartphone or tablet, and can be sent to a
doctor, caregiver, or even a social network. And this is the precursor to
having the key parts of your genome sequence — that which interacts with
various prescription medications — maintained on your phone. Your phone, your
DNA, your data.”
“But clearly the reach and impact
extends far beyond accessing the individual’s metrics. Being able to diagnose a
child’s ear infection remotely will pre-empt the need in many cases to see the
pediatrician or go to an emergency room. Having one’s eyes refracted by a
smartphone add-on leaves the need for an optometrist wanting. The benign skin
lesions that so many people are living with but concerned about could get
accurately diagnosed without a dermatologist. Phoning in the electrocardiogram
data for someone with palpitations and lightheadedness obviates the need for a
cardiology consultation or another emergency room visit. Capturing brain wave
data along with oxygen level in the blood, heart and breathing rate with a home
sensor would largely eradicate the need for expensive hospital-based sleep
studies. If this doesn’t represent the beginnings of the greatest shakeup in
medicine, then what does?”
“Physicians should not be fearful or
threatened by the emerging smartphone-centric revolution of health care. The
remarkable inefficiency of how medicine is currently practiced, along with its
high costs, leaves enormous room for improvement.
Mobile devices sent on smart-phones may transform medicine
Rather than waiting an
average of one hour for an office visit that lasts about seven minutes with the
doctor, who typically spends the time looking at a keyboard rather than the
patient, why aren’t we doing many office visits with secure video connects or
even Skype and FaceTime? And having real face time.
The relevant data on blood
pressure, glucose, or whatever relates to the primary concern could be readily
transmitted just before or during the visit. With the growing physician
shortage that looms ahead, it’s all the more reason to embrace a new form of
unplugged medicine. Note to my fellow physicians: It’s time to let go!”
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