- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 10, 2015
- Industry changes, Technology
I’ve been reading Eric Topol’s book The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands The book predicts huge shifts in the health care system driven by the ubiquitous smartphone.
Topol suggests that very soon we will be using our iPhones and Androids to measure our blood pressure, pulse, check for ear infections and even perform our own EKGs. Devices are coming to market that will plug into our phones and let us perform all these tests ourselves any time we want.
The results from these tests will be stored in our phone and synced up to our favorite cloud health applications. This data will be in our hands not those of our doctor or hospital until we give those entities access and sync the data up to their systems (assuming they have built the technology infrastructure to receive it).
How medical practices may change
Whenever I go to my primary care practice I bring a good book. I expect to be in the waiting room for thirty minutes minimum. Topol predicts these days of queuing to see your physician will soon disappear
As the smartphone allows patients to conduct their own routine tests patients will no longer need to go to the doctor except for more complex situations. Services now exist for patients to speak to a doctor remotely and receive advice without ever needing to sit in the waiting room (Doctor on Demand, MD Live and Teladoc). Technology is even bringing back that most old fashioned of institutions the house call. Patients can order up doctors “Uber style” from their smartphone at Pager.
When fixing computers, it’s common to have a three-tier support structure. The first tier is the help desk. These are the people who first answer your call when you have a computer problem. If the problem is too difficult for the help desk staff, they will refer you to “second level” support and often patch them in. If your problem is needs expert help it will be queued up for the engineers that built the product to review.
I can imagine the “fixing of people” evolving in a similar way, first level support may be your smartphone. If your phone detects a potential problem it may suggest you connect with a remote physician for a consultation. Should the remote physician think the problem warrants it, you will be scheduled to see a doctor in-person or perhaps one will be ordered up to arrive at your home.
How hospitals may change
Hospital rooms will all but disappear in Topol’s view of the future. More advanced medical procedures with shorter recovery times coupled with remote monitoring through patients smartphones, will allow hospital rooms to be replaced with bedrooms.
Most common hospital room of the future?
Hospital buildings will no longer be filled with rooms for patients. They will contain only the essential rooms to treat patients like operating rooms, ICUs, emergency rooms and some labs. This will greatly reduce the size and cost of building hospitals.
Hospitals will contain a couple of other type of rooms that they have never contained before: Remote patient monitoring centers and datacenters. A new type of hospital staff member will work in these rooms monitoring patients vital signs much as an alarm company monitors your home. In the back halls rooms will be filled not with patients but with racks of servers processing oceans of data pouring in from those patients that have given the hospital access to their smartphones.
What do you think of this vision of the future of health systems? Do you agree it will be like this?