When I attended Futuremed at NASA, the chief medical officer of IBM Watson told me it’s really challenging for them to persuade doctors IBM Watson will not take away anything from their job, only adding additional value to medical decision making. We need to be ready to embrace digital technologies in practicing medicine as well!
In a few years time, we will teach medical students how to deal with such technologies. I’m developing a new course for that as a part of the medical curriculum.
Do you remember the story of Jack Andraka? It seems this is going to be a trend now. A 14-year-old teenager in the US discovered that the magnets inside an iPad could shut off implanted defibrillators if the device is left on the chest for some time.
Chien’s study found that 30 percent of patients with defibrillators who put iPads on their chest were affected by the device. Most defibrillators will turn back on once the magnet is removed, but some must be reactivated manually causing a potentially life-threatening situation.
I’ve been teaching medical students about the meaningful use of health IT, social media and other disruptive technologies for 5 years. I created a digital format of the course therefore any medical student or medical professional in the world can access the materials and finish the course.
There are 3 additional projects going on right now:
- My students fight for bonus points on the Facebook page of the course. I post challenges every single day during the semester and I will also measure the effectiveness of this approach with the surveys students will fill in soon, but I can tell you now it’s going just great with over a hundred students participating and competing with their knowledge. This out-of-the-curriculum experience helps them a lot in learning to use the Internet more efficiently. I knew I had to find them with such an approach where they are online and based on the first week survey, 100% of them are on Facebook.
- As e-patients lead the movement of including social media in the practice of medicine, we need to listen to them. I already said that every medical student in the world must read the book “Let Patients Help” from E-patient Dave and I’m taking the first step when I include this book in this semester’s recommended reading list, plus also including questions about the book in the final written exam. I’m working on persuading Semmelweis University (where I teach my course) to endorse it first and make it a must-read book for every medical student.
- We need to demonstrate disruptive technologies to students, not just talking about them. When I asked Dr. David Albert that I would love to show AliveCor to the students live, he kindly made it happen and I have my own AliveCor now. This April, I will show students how to do an ECG with an iPhone. This is the first step and I’m looking for other innovators and vendors to let me present their technologies to students. The only way to have tech-savvy physicians in the healthcare system is to train them like that.
Eric Topol, MD, the author of the Creative Destruction of Medicine appeared in a recent episode of The Colbert Show. This is a great chance for spreading the word about the importance of using disruptive technologies in the practice of medicine and Topol did a good job.
Topol had Colbert try AliveECG, an electrocardiogram attachment for the iPhone from Oklahoma City-based startup AliveCor, showing the host’s heart rhythm in real time. Then he demonstrated the ViSi monitor from Sotera Wireless, a company Topol is an investor in, to show heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and other vital signs on a device not much bigger than a watch. “We can do an intensive care unit on the wrist,” Topol explained. That’s when the banter picked up.
People have been thinking about the potential ways Google Glass could be used in medicine and healthcare. Even though it will probably be bad for your eyes, early testers seemed to love using it and didn’t feel it would distract them from anything. A few examples how it could be used in the future:
- Displaying the patient’s electronic medical records real-time.
- Assisting the doctor in making the diagnosis with evidence-based and relevant information from the medical literature.
- Recording every operation and procedure from the doctors perspective. Every movement of doctors will be archived and screened for potential mistakes. (I know it’s harsh.)
- Based on the lab tests of the patient, it will give an estimated prognosis and suggest next steps in the treatment.
- Live consultations with colleagues as they will be able to see what I see live.
- It will guide users through all the steps during an emergency situation. It could save lives if used by laypeople.
- It will suggest treatment plans based on the patient’s genomic data.
Hopefully, Google Glass will not be only a smartphone attached to our glasses:
Such mobile technologies will make a much more significant impact on the practice of medicine than any smartphone applications so far. Fujitsu’s Generation walking stick that features GPS technology to track and monitor users was a big hit at the recent Mobile World Congress, just to come up with one example.
But what about the company that could revolutionize the use of mobile phones in healthcare? Apple is working on iWatch, a smart watch that could be used for consultations, as a pager or even for displaying fresh lab test results from the patients. While it can be a hit as well, I’m pretty sure Google Glass will rule this market for some time.
Moreover, imagine all these technologies with IBM Watson being the brain behind them. It seems Watson will eventually fit on a smartphone and diagnose illness. If Watson could be used by Google Glass, iWatch or any other disruptive mobile technologies, even though medical professionals will have to go through the traditional educational systems, the revolution of the practice of medicine will be imminent.
I’m a geek and you know how much I support the inclusion of digital technologies in medicine, healthcare and medical education. At the same time, I always highlight the fact that doctors will be needed for practicing medicine, robots cannot do their job. I know Vinod Khosla thinks otherwise.
Now, after watching the video demonstration of how Watson could help a clinician, I have doubts about a future. We will see how it gets integrated in everyday medicine. I support the IBM Watson project very much, but I hope medical professionals, humans, will always play the major role in the practice of medicine.
See also the Medgadget report.
Just like last year, now it’s time to publish my predictions for the new year regarding healthcare, medical technology and innovation. It seems year by year many of these predictions prove to be right which makes me glad. I hope the same thing will happen to these predictions.
- Flexible mobile phones will be released: Flexible glass makes such developments possible. Medical professionals will love these as they are literally unbreakable. The PC era is clearly over.
- Fewer health-related mobile app downloads: Last year a decline in the number of downloaded smartphone apps was reported, but don’t worry, that’s a positive step. Now instead of downloading every medical app just to show them to our peers, we will use them with strategy and will make the right choices.
- Google Glasses will hit the world market and healthcare: By bringing digital information and data in front of your eyes, it can have a bright future in everyday medicine either in the OR or during a regular examination.
- Google+ communities will prove to be better than Facebook groups: Google+ Communities are relatively new, but I discovered more news items and posts which are relevant to my topics in the last few weeks than on Facebook during the last few years.
- Robotic Exoskeletons will become widely used: It’s time to use all those military and robotic developments to help the everyday lives of paralyzed people in many ways.
- First humanoid robots to be “born”: I’m not saying such humanoid robots would play any kind of a role in our lives now, but this certainly is going to be a very important step. Be prepared to see them in hospitals in the coming years.
- FDA does not publish a clear guide about using social media by pharma: A year ago we published our crowdsourced and open-access guide for pharma but we do need the FDA to come out with a clear set of guidelines. Well, they won’t do that in 2013.
- Windows tablets on the rise: I have an Android tablet, my friends use iPad and iPad Mini so I pretty much know all the pros and cons for these two systems, but when I tried Microsoft Surface, I was amazed. It definitely has a future in healthcare. Elder members in our family can learn how to use a tablet in days, even if they couldn’t learn how to use a computer for years.
- Cost of whole genome sequencing goes under $1000: It is possible in many laboratories from Oxford to China to sequence a total human genome for less than $1000 in less than a few hours, but it should be widely available in 2013 as an affordable service.
- Some smartphone apps get evidence based background: There are more and more studies focusing on whether certain smartphone apps and concepts can be used in medicine and healthcare, therefore as the amount of evidence grows, doctors should be able to prescribe mobile apps for their patients besides drugs and therapies.
- Robotic telepresence in rural hospitals: When geographical distances cause a serious limitation, we need to turn to digital technologies, but using Skype cannot always be a solution. Robotic telemedical systems should appear in such areas in 2013.
- LinkedIn gets close to Facebook and Google+: Regarding the professional use of social networks, LinkedIn is far more useful and efficient than Facebook and maybe better than Google+. Following the right moves and steps, I expect LinkedIn to become the most respected social network.
- No hospital can live without social media accounts: This has been a clear trend for years, and now it’s time for every hospital manager to accept the challenge and the importance of using social networks to keep in touch with (future) patients.
- IBM’s Watson in the medical practice. IBM’s supercomputer is being tested now at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and it should become an integrated part of medical decision making this year.
- Health/medical businesses focus more on Twitter than on Facebook: This comes from my own experience. While Facebook ads can help you get your message to a lot of people, Twitter is more precise in communication. While it requires a different strategy, it can be more successful in conversion.
As usual, please feel free to add your tips in the comment section!
On the 23rd of November, 1992, IBM announced IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the first mobile phone with PDA functions at the COMDEX event in Las Vegas.
Time goes by…
In a few more years, in rural areas it’s going to feel like a doctor is there with the patient while the doc is miles away although the iRobot will be in its place.
iRobot even retooled itself to build an emerging technologies group, announcing a partnership with InTouch Health to put its AVA telepresence technology to better use. Today the two companies are announcing the fruits of their labor — the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, or RP-VITA. The project aims to combine the best of iRobot’s AVA telepresence units with InTouch health’s own bots, creating an easy to use system that allows physicians to care for patients remotely without stumbling over complicated technology.
Imagine how many problems could be solved by not using non-sterile computer mouse in the OR or in any medical rooms. I just found Leap Motion, an amazing interactive mouse-less control device. I want this!
Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.