Topol’s Top Ten Targets for Wireless Medicine

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 4, 2009        

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Eric TopolDuring his keynote at CTIA, Scripps Health’s Dr. Eric Topol outlined a top ten list for conditions and diseases that are already benefiting from wireless health services or soon will. Here’s Topol’s Top Ten (in alphabetical order) with a figure of the number of Americans affected by each condition or disease. Did he miss any notable opportunities?

Top Ten Targets for Wireless Medicine

Alzheimer’s: 5 million Americans. Wireless sensors can track the vital signs of patients as well as their location, activity, and balance.

Asthma: 20 million Americans. Wireless can track the respiratory rate and peak flow so patients can use inhalers before an attack occurs.

Breast Cancer: 3 million Americans. Women can use a wireless ultrasound device at home and send the scan to the doctor–won’t have to go in for a mammogram.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD): 10 million Americans. Wireless can monitor FEV1, air quality and oximetry.

Depression: 19 million Americans. Wireless can monitor medication compliance, activity and communication.

Diabetes: 21 million Americans. Wireless can monitor blood glucose and hemoglobin.

Heart Failure: 5 million Americans. Wireless can monitor cardiac pressures, fluids, weight and blood pressure.

Hypertension: 74 million Americans. Wireless can continuously monitor blood pressure and track medication compliance.

Obesity: 80 million Americans. Wireless scales can track weight and wireless sensors can track calories in/out and activity levels.

Sleep disorders: 15 million Americans. Wireless sensors can monitor each of the phases of sleep for quality of rest, detect apnea and track vital signs.

  • David Doherty

    Where is “Informed Advice from Professional Doctors” which would cover things like sexual health advice, screening, support of point-of-care-testing, early intervention etc. etc.

    Wireless is already empowering the vast majority of emergency medical 911 calls…. and todays mobiles (via caller ID, IMEI, Location, Biometrics etc) have the potential to connect a patients Digital Care Records with their remote carers. The value of a call with a Doctor is transformed by the sharing of a patients previous medical history and this also increases patient safety, avoids the time/costs of repetitive patient interviewing and supports continuity of care.

    If it’s not clear what the benefits of this are check out my slideshow ( where the benefits of wirelessly connecting care and digital records are explained.

  • Brian Dolan

    Hi David,

    True those are both good use cases for mHealth, but as I wrote: This list was for diseases and other medical conditions that wireless health should target, have targeted, or will target soon. The ones you mentioned wouldn’t fit that category.


  • David Doherty

    Hi Brian,

    Personally i think you’re at risk of missing the first and biggest opportunity for wireless devices to improve health outcomes. IMHO Patients empowered through highly personalized information delivered through conventional wireless devices will finally enable the Healthcare industry focus to shift from Treatment to Prevention.

    Eric Shmidt at Google is saying: “The fact of the matter is that mobile devices are going to be the way the majority of people get information”

    Suzannah Fox at the Pew Internet & American Life Project has a report suggesting that 75-80% of internet users have already looked online for health information, 75% of this group who have a chronic condition say their last health search affected a decision about how to treat their illness/condition AND home broadband users are twice as likely as home dial-up users to do health research on a typical day

    As access and use of mobile search continues to grow we are going to witness highly personalised information empowering patients in the decision making process and this will inevitably lead to earlier and more appropriate interventions. Earlier intervention will provide better clinical outcomes, enormous cost savings and can help patients change their behavior in ways that will reduce their chances of suffering from several of the lifestyle related “Targets” you have listed above.

  • Brian Dolan

    Hi David, I don’t disagree.

    This post is just a list of diseases and conditions to target for wireless enabled treatment, based on Eric Topol’s presentation. Your points are still right on, but they are looking at mHealth from a different lens: “Informed advice from professional doctors” is a great target for mhealth but it’s not a disease or condition.

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