Dr. Eric Topol on the Future of Technology in Healthcare

Industry luminary Dr. Eric Topol, recently spoke as part of a six-part webinar series hosted by Imprivata.  His session – which was a precursor to his message as keynote speaker of HIMSS13 last week — addressed the roles that consumers and technology will play in the coming democratization of medicine.

A practicing cardiologist at Scripps Health, Dr. Topol has done much to expand our understanding of how genetics can determine a person’s health risks, particularly the risk of a heart attack.  Dr. Topol has also published over 1,100 peer-reviewed articles and over 30 medical textbooks. His best-selling book “The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care” was published in 2012.

During his presentation, he spoke about the convergence of patient information with new technology that makes this time in medicine so extraordinary.  With devices like smartphones and wireless activity trackers in the hands of many patients and medical professionals, there is an opportunity for sharing of actionable information that never existed before.

Dr. Topol envisions a future where technology can start to take over a lot of the routine testing that we have depended on physicians to do for us.  And, we may need to go to hospitals less when we are able to monitor ourselves remotely using medical devices.  Dr. Topol referenced a quote from Fast Company that said “The idea of going down to your doctor’s office is going to feel as foreign as going to the video store.” 

Dr. Topol talked about carrying your DNA information on your iPhone so that you health information would be readily available to any care provider or pharmacist.  He also talked about how genetic sequencing can help identify genes that could be associated with heart attacks.  By looking at the common mutations across diseases like heart disease and overlaying it with the patient’s own information, physicians can tailor therapy specifically to individual’s needs and, in some cases, prevent heart attacks all together.

The research that Dr. Topol has done on genomic and wireless digital technologies continues to reshape the future of medicine.  Recognizing the technologies that are driving the shift towards data-driven, participatory medicine makes it possible to enhance patient care for both providers and patients.

If you missed Dr. Topol’s keynote at HIMSS13, be sure to watch the on-demand version of his webinar – it’s time well-spent.