Are Smartphones The Future Of Medicine? | Archives | NBC News

our next story here tonight we're about to hear one of the world's top physicians say the smartphone may change his profession and personal medical care in ways none of us saw coming his story tonight from dr. Nancy Snyderman why do we have people being treated like cattle herd that's waste and the billions of dollars that's being wasted each year for screening and the wrong drugs and the wrong everything it's astounding and we just can't go on like this yeah I'll take that thanks dr. Eric Topol has long been one of the world's foremost cardiologists hey great to see you he has now become the foremost expert in the exploding field of wireless medicine and this explosion he says is about to make our health care better and cheaper watch what he does with a cell phone and we'll just pop this iPhone into it like that he shows how simply his modified iPhone produces a cardiogram for a patient so you got just put your fingers on it there you go and in a second you know in the first second then it stabilizes there it is the device was approved by the FDA in December and is now sold to physicians for $199 Topol tells his patient he just saved a $100 technicians fee so are we close to using this to say I'm going to die I'm going to diagnose you and prescribe four or five apps instead of four or five medications well these days I'm actually prescribing a lot more apps than I am medications you can take the phone and make it a lab on a chip you can do blood tests saliva tests urine tests all kinds of things a sweat test through your phone this is a powerful device and I'll just have you just hold that on there like that topples patient Ron Thompson is dealing with several significant heart issues you saw that on a phone didn't you just we're just amazed the first time you saw that yeah absolutely I'm used to having a you say geez crash machine hooked up to me and put all these you know shaving my chest and stick you know stick them on there and put the electrodes or whatever but ya know this is incredible Topol also uses a portable ultrasound a V scan to image Ron's heart so get a good window know there's a order and you see it is accelerated the V scan is made by GE a parent company of NBC can you see that see how strong is coming together he does in the office what would normally be a separate test costing 800 dollars there's 20 million over 20 million echocardiogram done a year to 20 million times $800 that's a lot of money probably 7080 percent we can get rid of just by having this part of the physical exam I was surprised when you saw Ron that the technology did not get in the way of the doctor-patient relationship actually well I think it helps make the whole interaction much more intimate because now I'm sharing the results in real-time there's so much technology now that we could by using digital structure that exists today that we could make the offices it an enjoyable thing and not only that Nancy but it doesn't have to be in person there's no reason why a lot of offices if not most could be done remotely Ron could take his EKG at home send send yes and all your new he'll be looking at we'd be looking at it together or if I got him a wireless ultrasound and he just puts it right there and I just say okay take a deep breath I could be watching it at real time I mean anything that we do can be done remotely when topal came to Scripps in San Diego from Cleveland he started a new chapter in his life when you moved here in 2006 you just left the cleveland clinic under not very happy circumstances right he had a reputation for brashness and questioned the safety of the hugely profitable painkiller Vioxx and eventually forced it off the market they resigned from that after having been here 14 years it was a significant part of my career do you think wow I've done a really great job making health care better or anything damn there's so much yet to do I feel the dam is too much so much to do problem I feel that big time do you ever think about how you're going to die yeah I do sometimes my you know I watched my mother die at a very young age and early 50s with leukemia then my father was an end-stage diabetic and he went blind at age 49 Topol uses DNA testing and monitoring to pinpoint his specific vulnerabilities and guide his daily life he refuses to use elevators and his day is spent walking from building to building he incorporates an hour of exercise into virtually every day no matter how busy trying to live the life he thinks we'll all be living in the near future how did you find out about that at lunch we pulled out what we were told is one of his weaknesses tortilla chips will you partake oh yeah it's hard to resume I'll take a mine handful they are loaded with carbohydrates which trigger glucose yeah this is this is my guilty pleasure here so out comes his cell phone I mean I can look at my glucose every minute I don't want to look at it every minute but I can and so I could just turn it on my glucose fortunately I haven't had enough chips here they don't but he's only 107 how does it know that Y has I have a sensor on where and well I have it on my abdomen but I'll show you what it looks like it's like that touching the skin so that sends a wireless signal to this yes and if you were a diabetic and you had this you could then send this message to your physician or do your own computer oh yeah and you could start to see triggers and trends and follow this sure oh and there goes the lifestyle change you got it Eric Topol is a man who looks way over the horizon and everywhere he looks he sees a cell phone in the future let's assume I have heart disease what could this tell me about impending trouble well we're working on a project that will take a nano sensor in the bloodstream that is smaller than a grain of sand and it will it will pick up a signal when you have cells coming off shed from the into the bloodstream coming off from the artery lining which is a precursor to a heart attack and then you will get on your phone a special heart attack ringtone which will warn you within the week or two weeks that you are very liable to have a heart attack I know it sounds a little invasive putting this little tiny small in a grain of sand in your blood but what that will do of having your body under continuous surveillance talking to your phone that's the future of Medicine so this is a heart rate this is his newest passion the busy mobile wrist monitor Topal was involved in its development everything a hospital intensive care unit now monitors this does wirelessly so if my 90 year old father is discharged from the hospital it's conceivable he could go home with something like this and a doctor could monitor him remotely absolutely his book lays out how the digital revolution will create better health care you write in your book that medicine is currently set up to be maximally imprecise yet medicine today is about as much wasteful as one can imagine so let's just take drugs in this country prescription drugs 350 billion a year a third of which is total waste we're giving a drug that doesn't work in fact even worse than our giving drugs that backfire with side effects so that's a hundred billion plus just from the prescription medications and then what about mass screening every woman should have a mammogram every year colonoscopies PSAs it's really medicine dumbed down it's treating all human beings the same that's crazy well each of us are are truly unique in every way what is the patient of tomorrow yeah the patient Lamar is the biggest switch people need to take ownership they need to seize the moment and seize the data the new medicine is plugged in to you it's understanding you which we've never really done before and you drive it you've got data and you've got information that you never had before wouldn't you like that information most people would and wouldn't you like to be helping to call the shots fascinating story our thanks to doctors topo land Sneiderman for that


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