Innovations in Technology and Telemedicine

The health care system in the United States has become extremely inefficient and needs significant reform, according to a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Eric Topol, of the Scripps Research Institute. Topol says recent innovations in technology and telemedicine can improve patient outcomes and decrease costs.

The United States spends approximately $3 trillion a year on health care, which roughly translates to $10,000 per capita. That is not expected to decrease in the near future. Over the next decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that health care spending will increase 5.8% annually.

Smartphones and other technological devices can transform the U.S. health care system, according to Topol, and create better patient outcomes.

“Smart medicine offers a way out, enabling doctors to develop a precise, high-definition understanding of each person in their care,” he writes. “The key tools are cheaper sensors, simpler and more routine imaging, and regular use of now widely available genetic analysis.”

Under the current health care model, patients visit a doctor once a year for an annual visit or when a health emergency occurs. That gives doctors a limited amount of data to diagnose a problem. Wearable devices collect huge amounts of data on things like heart rate, blood pressure, body-temperate, sleep patterns and exercise. That data can be collected and stored in the cloud, allowing medical professionals more access to data about a patient. The process will reduce costs, because people will not have to stay in a hospital when data is collected.

Under this model, people will be able to see a doctor more quickly. Currently, it takes an average of 3.4 weeks to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. With smart medicine and telemedicine, a doctor can analyze the collected data in his or her office and quickly meet with the patient through a videoconference. The system becomes more efficient.

Topol and other researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are starting to put the theory into practice. They are working with the National Institutes of Health and several local partners to develop a comprehensive “health record of the future” for individual patients. The study combines medical data from office visits, labs, scans and combines it with data generated by personal sensors, including sleep, physical activity, weight, environment, blood pressure and other relevant medical metrics.

Topol is hopeful that Congress will focus on legislation that reduces health care costs and incorporates today’s advanced technology. He believes it is something to get excited about.

“Such public support for electric cars has rapidly changed the face of the whole auto industry,” he writes. “American medicine today is no less antiquated than the Detroit of a generation ago, and it needs to find its way into the present century.”

The growth of technology is ever dynamic. This has been clearly evident in the maturation of the third internet platform, The Internet of Things (“IOT”). As the third leg in the progression of the internet, the IOT since the early 2000s has been nowhere more evident than among ‘wearables’.

As Wearables progressed with the proficiency to track data consumers started to question how best to apply the collected data. Awareness by consumers of tracked data was a first-stage, but missed the vital importance in the determination and application of data and, more importantly, the next actionable steps. Recently, some early pioneering wearable enterprises have been challenged with the preceding dilemma.  Beyond simple awareness, unless the consumer is knowledgeable regarding the collected data from digital health devices, they’ll also ask regarding its application and actionability. Somnology Plex© Sleep Scanner not only is accurate in capturing data, but also acknowledges the consumers’ need for actionable steps and, is written and provided in understandable language for the consumer to understand and empower them to actionable next steps.

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