At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Friday, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs invited onstage Dr. Eric J. Topol, chief academic officer of Scripps Health and chief medical officer of the West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI), to discuss the wireless health trend. (Qualcomm is a key supporter of the WWHI.)
Topol's talk included mentions of a half dozen different wireless health devices including FitBit, Zeo, DirectLife, Corventis' PiiX sensor and AirStripOB's smartphone application, but it also included a live demo of a wireless health device that we haven't seen make the trade show circuit yet: GE's portable ultrasound device, Vscan.
This is the digital healthcare decade that we are heading into, Topol predicted while onstage at CES. Wireless health tools will empower consumers to take charge of their health like nothing before, he said, and it will lead to a decade of consumer-driven healthcare.
Topol then turned on his iPhone, which began streaming the heart rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature and the real-time beat-by-beat of a patient that had on one of Corventis's PiiX peel-and-stick sensor in a hospital in Texas. The audience quieted down as the heart beat sounded out over the keynote speakers.
After the quick Corventis demo, Topol demo'd one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Inventions of 2009: GE's handheld ultrasound device Vscan.
The Vscan can replace traditional ultrasounds, which cost upwards of $300,000 Topol said. The portable Vscan could also replace the 200 year old stethoscope, according to Topol. (Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs went so far as to call stethoscopes "buggy whips.")
The Vscan took a good minute to warm up before Topol got the image to show up: "Let me show you my heart, there is one in there... [What a] fantastic image -- it's comparable to any other ECHO machine... People are going to be doing their own ECHOs and sending them to their doctors in the not too distant future," he predicted.
Topol also pointed to Swedish company Great Connections as an example of one that is moving ultrasound images, particularly fetal images, from the doctor's office to the patients' mobile phones. Great Connections can transfer DICOM images to any platform, but many patients request the video sent to relatives' mobile handsets: No need to burn it to a DVD anymore. This saves the clinician time and makes it easier for the expectant family to send the images in real-time from the doctor's office.
"These are the lucky ones," Topol said. "These babies coming into this wireless world. Incredible."
Here's how the WWHI described these two wireless health offerings in a press release that coincided with Topol's presentation at CES:
"Mobile Baby (Great Connection) – helps maternity clinics to offer digital delivery of ultrasound pictures and video to expecting parents and their friends and relatives. The product converts and delivers ultrasound pictures and video to mobile phones, email accounts and popular online social networks like Facebook. The system can also handle images from MR, CT and digital x-rays.
Vscan (GE Healthcare) – a pocket size visualization tool developed to help make point-of-care imaging a reality. Roughly the size of a smart phone, Vscan houses powerful, ultrasmart ultrasound technology that can be used in virtually any clinical, hospital or primary care setting. By giving doctors a view into the body from the palm of a hand, Vscan has the potential to redefine the way doctors examine patients and ultimately improve patient care."
For more from the press release from the WWHI, read more here