digital health

Digital health is the convergence of the digital and genetics revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society.

Topol: Digital Health Tools Are Revolutionizing Health Care

Digital health technology, such as smartphones and smart watches, are revolutionizing the way physicians and patients interact, Eric Topol -- a cardiologist and the director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif. -- writes in a Wall Street Journal essay.

According to Topol, innovations in health IT and smartphones have the potential to put patients at the center of their care. For example, new smartphone-related technologies can:

  • Diagnose ear infections and rashes and recommend treatments;
  • Estimate the costs of medical procedures, tests, scans and other types of care;
  • Facilitate video consultations with physicians at the same cost of a typical copayment 24 hours per day;
  • Track individuals' heart rhythms; and
  • Monitor patients' mental health.

Topol noted that such technologies can help individuals to:

  • Have more power over their care;
  • Reduce health care costs;
  • Reduce the number of visits they make to their physicians; and
  • Speed up the care they receive.

In addition, Topol wrote that wearable technologies -- such as smart watches and smart necklaces -- have the potential to monitor individuals' vital signs at every moment, allowing for monitoring that patients typically can only receive in the hospital to their homes. He argued that such remote monitoring devices could potentially replace some hospital care, while smartphone applications designed to analyze patients' blood and vitals could replace some lab tests.

Concerns Remain

While such technologies may increase patients' roles in their care, Topol noted that some concerns about the innovations exist, including the:

  • Accuracy of such tools;
  • Threat of hacking to individuals' personal health data; and
  • Removal of the "human touch" from medicine (Topol, Wall Street Journal, 1/9).
Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, January 12, 2015