The Future of Medicine: Digital Health Care
Mobile devices and apps make it possible to do most things from any where and at any time. You can listen to music, shop, watch shows, check bank accounts, connect with friends, or play games on the bus in the morning, at the park after class, or at the movie theater at midnight. Combining mobile devices with digital health technologies lets patients and doctors monitor health and deliver more accurate, personal health care. Blood tests, glucose levels, heart rate, blood pressure—there is an app for that. And, sometimes, really cool gizmos.
One challenge for lawmakers is how to encourage medical and technological innovation but also ensure patient safety. Congressional Bill S.2007 tries to address this. The Bill, officially titled Preventing Regulatory Overreach to Enhance Care Technology Act of 2014, redefines health ‘software’ and makes it unnecessary for the FDA to regulate it.
As innovative technologies become the norm, they will revolutionize the health care industry. Digital health, and other technologies, will change health care, including how, where, and when health care is delivered. This week, check out the emerging industry of digital healthcare and some amazing digital healthcare advances.
What is Digital Healthcare?
What is digital medicine? Visit the Story of Digital Health for one definition. Watch the first video, The Story of Digital Health, for an explanation of digital health. If it feels as though the digital health industry has a language of its own, it’s because it does. Every subject and every industry has its own language—terms insiders use frequently. Digital medicine, aka digital health, has a language too. Watch a second video for an introduction to the language of digital health.
What does it look like when you put all these buzz words together? In his TED Talk, cardiologist Eric Topol shares a few examples of products that cross mobile, social technologies with monitoring, treatment, or diagnostic tools. Begin watching at 1:58 to hear his definition of digital medicine and to hear him share examples of digital health.
Activity monitors, such as Fuelband and Fitbit, and sleep monitors are only the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities, and how they will change how doctors diagnose and treat illnesses and conditions, may surprise you. Mddionline.com, the website for the medical device and diagnostic industry, shares 5 Startups Poised to Change Medicine. Watch the short video about each new technology and use the red arrows to move through the slideshow.
A Case Study
Take a closer look at one of the medical innovations featured in the mddionline.com slideshow. Proteus’ medical breakthrough is Helius, the first so-called ‘smart’ pill. Read Proteus’ mission statement to discover what trends inspired their innovation and how they hope to change the health care industry.
Watch Powered by You, a short video that explains how the Helius pill works. See how Proteus imagines this will assist patients and their caretakers; watch A View into Health. An ingestible sensor that communicates via wireless technology is certainly different. As with any new technology, maybe especially with one you swallow, questions are to expected. Proteus provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Embedded in Proteus’ pill is a biosensor that remains in the patient’s stomach and provides real-time information about how the patient responds to medicine. This means patients using Helius do not have to endure blood tests, x-rays, or biopsies for their doctors to determine whether a drug is working. This can be especially helpful for patients who regularly take medicine, or people with conditions, such as diabetes, that require regular monitoring. Read about health areas Proteus hopes its ingestible sensor will help treat in the future.
Digital health builds on wireless and social trends, aims to lower health care costs, and hopes to provide individual health care. View an infographic from RockHealth that shares statistics about health care in the U.S., mobile health, care givers, and the business of health care. Innovative companies such as Proteus build, quite literally, on these statistics.
As digital health takes off, new rules will be made. S2007, the bill making its way through the legislative process, is an example of this. S2007 will have important consequences for the digital health care industry, as well as doctors and patients. VentureBeat explores the pros and cons of regulating digital heath care. No matter what the legislative outcome is—regulation or not—it may be a hard pill for some to swallow.
As you read the local newspaper this week, look for articles that connect health care with social media, wireless technology, or biometrics. Look, too, for articles about patients with diseases or conditions who might benefit from digital health products. What products do you imagine? Create a diagram to show how the technology you imagine will work.