Again, a fascinating and thought provoking TED talk; this time by Eric Topol, M.D, a noted cardiologist and currently the Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, which is funded by a grant by the NIH to accelerate to research to change medicine. Worth anyone’s 15 minutes to watch this.
Topol starts the speech by stating the stethoscope was invented in 1816, but doesn’t think it needs to be used by 2016. Smart phones will be the vehicle to measure and communicate all kinds of vital signs—continuous measurement seems to be the mantra. I’ve recreated a table he shares that lists diseases, the amount of people affected by the disease, and where a wireless solution could come into play
|Disease||No. Affected||Wireless Solution|
|Alzheimer’s||5M||Vital Signs, Location, Activity, Balance|
|Asthma||23M||RR, FEV1, Air Quality, Oximetry, Pollen Count|
|Breast Cancer||3M||Ultrasound Self-exam—> Web|
|COPD||10M||RR, FEV1, Air Quality, Oximetry|
|Depression||21M||Med Compliance, Activity, Communication|
|Diabetes||24M||Glucose, Hemoglobin, A1C|
|Heart Failure||5M||Cardiac Pressures, Weight, BP, Fluid Status|
|Hypertension||74M||Continuous BP, Med Compliance|
|Obesity||80M||Smart Scale, Glucose, Caloric In/Out, Activity|
|Sleep Disorders||40M||Sleep Phases, Quality, Apnea, Vital Signs|
I know from some of the entrepreneurial endeavors that my family has pursued, that doctors are usually laggards in adopting new technology. A promising aspect of this discussion is that it puts much of the monitoring and the device into the hands of the general population, the patient. Apple has done a fantastic job of, in essence, educating the population on how to use touch screen technology and I’m sure many of these medical applications will work better with touch screen technologies. Doctors are part of that group who are using smart phones for personal use so it will also be that much easier to get them to adopt solutions that use these devices. Interestingly, I find that on the Apple iphone, certain applications have a better user experience on the mobile touch screen device than the computer using a mouse—for example, social media and network sites Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck all have better user experiences on the iphone than the computer. I believe for some of these medical applications, you’ll find a similar phenomenon. While Topol limits his discussion to smartphones, the upcoming iPad also has great promise in the medical arena. I recently saw a survey result that said 1 out 5 doctors would consider using an iPad for professional reasons—that’s a promising start for a technology that hasn’t even been released yet (due out on April 3, 2010).
Exciting times for the future of medicine. Looking forward to the tidal wave of change that Topol and others will drive.