Data, Smartphones Driving Medical Trends

 Oct. 27, 2014


By Laura Selby

Five health care experts took the stage during Monday's OMED General Session to share their predictions for the future of medicine. From trading stethoscopes for smartphones to increasingly personalized, on-demand medicine, here's a glimpse at what the future could hold for physicians.


Eric Topol, MD: "You Are Your Data"


"On-demand medicine is really the next big phase," Dr. Topol predicted. Smartphone apps already exist that let patients do electrocardiograms or even X-rays themselves, he pointed out. He showed the audience an app that shows imaging of of the patient's heart: "In the future, we won't be using stethoscopes. They're a relic!" For physicians, he said, the coming era of medicine as "a digitized, democratized data science" has profound implications: "You are your data. But more importantly, you need to own your data."


Michael S. Weiner, DO: Tech Will Improve Care, Drive Down Costs

Dr. Weiner sees three major trends driving changes in the health care landscape. First, the aging population means more patients with chronic disease; there's also a potential provider shortage, since providers are aging too. Secondly, more technology is resulting in an overabundance of information. But it also carries promise, he said: "I'm really excited about the ability of technology to provide better quality of care at a lower cost." Finally, new care models are coming online, like the patient-centered medical home, accountable care organizations, and telemedicine.


Jeff Arnold: The Healing Power of Smartphones?

Arnold predicts that tech advances will transform medicine so it's more personalized for patients. "Everyone remembers the first time they used Uber, the confidence you have that that car is going to pull around the corner," he stated. "Compare that to the confidence you feel that you'll see your doctor at 4 p.m., when your appointment is scheduled." He believes the "Internet of things" will transform medicine, much as it's transforming car features and personal electronic devices. He called smartphones "potentially the greatest healing device any of us have ever seen" and imagined a future where physicians could use smartphone data to learn about patients' support network, their stressors, and even their exercise and eating habits.


Ceci Connolly: Partner With 'Health Care Consumers,' Not 'Patients'

Connolly urged physicians to think in terms of caring for "health care consumers" rather than "patients." It's an important distinction, she said, because patients are increasingly footing the bill for their health care expenses, as with health savings account (HSA) medical insurance plans. The question physicians should ask, she said, is "How can we empower [consumers] and how can we work with them? They're spending their own money and making their own decisions."


Panel Soundbites

How are we going to get interoperability that inspires the consumer to really care about their health?

-Jeff Arnold, explaining what he believes is the greatest challenge in health care

Calling it a health care system is an honorary - it's a lot of independent pieces. The synergy, the fusion of the parts is absent.

-Lou Carbone, on the same question

People do not get better unless you're connected with them. That's the point of being a DO.

-Charles Sophy, DO, panel moderator, on balancing patient care with the business aspects of running a practice

American consumers are very interested in their health and are willing to spend their own money on it, but they need a guide.

-Ceci Connolly, on the greatest challenge in health care

DOs have been leading the new model for over a century.

-Michael S. Weiner, DO, on the role DOs will play in the future of medicine

There's no innovative anything in it. It's a missed opportunity so far.

-Eric Topol, MD, on the Affordable Care Act