Digital health is ready for prime time.
Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, chief academic officer of San Diego-based Scripps Health and one of GQ’s 2009 “Rock Stars of Science”, was featured Thursday night on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, and he showed off a number of technologies familiar to readers of MobiHealthNews. For the general public, however, the segment promises to be eye-opening.
“It sounds like science fiction,” host Brian Williams said in the teaser before a commercial break, “but Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports on how your smartphone may change medicine, including warning you of a heart attack.”
In a segment called “iDoctor,” Snyderman, NBC News’s chief medical editor, called Topol the “foremost expert in the exploding field of wireless medicine,” and Topol has been an unabashed supporter of wireless technologies, even as others have dropped the label.
Topol, a cardiologist, told Snyderman, that billions of dollars are wasted every year for screening and unnecessary medications because people are “being treated like a cattle herd” in the frantic fee-for-service, litigation-happy world. “Medicine today is about as wasteful as one can imagine,” he said.
Topol expressed the view that a third of drugs prescribed are “total waste” and mass screenings represent “medicine dumbed down” by treating everyone the same.
To show how he believes medicine should be practiced, Topol demonstrated the recently FDA-cleared AliveCor iPhone ECG on a patient with multiple heart ailments. Snyderman said it saved the patient a $100 technician’s fee.
He then imaged the patient’s heart with a GE Healthcare Vscan handheld ultrasound to image the patient’s heart. (GE holds a 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal, a point Snyderman did mention.) The NBC physician noted that a separate test would cost $800 after Topol said making the ultrasound part of the physical exam could eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of the 20 million ECGs performed in the U.S. every year – a potential savings of as much as $12.8 billion. And a smartphone is much less invasive than a full 12-lead ECG machine.
Snyderman said she was “surprised” that the technology did not intrude on the patient-physician relationship. Keep reading>>