As the field of personalized medicine continues to mature, catalyzing the development of new diagnostic and prognostic technologies to optimize prevention and treatment of medical conditions, its benefits will be realized across the continuum of care—from the hospital triage unit to the patient home. Around the world, teams of scientists and engineers are developing innovative tools that leverage advancements in genomics, bioinformatics and mobile technology to transform the way care is delivered.
As Eric Topol, Vice Chairman of West Wireless Health Institute, aptly explained in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, these new technologies will help drive more-informed decisions by physicians and patients regarding their healthcare.
In his interview, Topol, a cardiologist who has gained much notoriety for his work in mobile health, describes a number of compelling examples of how smartphone applications may one day augment or possibly supplant current medical testing procedures, such as eye refraction testing, skin lesion examinations and even genetic testing.
This prediction shouldn’t come as a surprise when we consider the many ways in which the smartphone has transformed other aspects of our daily lives, but one of the unique characteristics of mobile health is the level of extensibility that these applications can achieve, enabling a single access point for a host of health services that traditionally has necessitated visits to multiple types of providers, such as primary care physicians (PCPs), specialists and laboratories. This level of integration not only drives opportunities for improving quality of care, but also efficiency of care, from reducing time spent in the hospital waiting room to enabling real-time reporting of medical test results.
One of the areas in which smartphone technologies is already having this type of impact is cardiovascular care. For instance, Everist Genomics’ CardioDefender smartphone ECG system enables patients, for the first time, to receive hospital-quality heart rhythm monitoring outside of the hospital setting. Using electrodes attached to the patients’ skin, the system wirelessly transmits heart rhythm data to a dedicated cardiac monitoring center to be observed by physicians for heart arrhythmias and other cardiovascular abnormalities.
Unlike conventional hospital-based ECG monitoring, which can require patients to go under surveillance in the observation unit for several days, CardioDefender provides continuous beat-by-beat heart rhythm monitoring without interrupting a patients’ daily lifestyle. Moreover, because most people who experience intermittent arrhythmias rarely experience them at the hospital, remote heart monitoring provides the potential to reduce unnecessary healthcare costs, all while providing the necessary data to help physicians make informed decisions regarding the appropriate treatment plan for their patients.
At Everist Genomics, we believe that the pursuit of higher quality and efficiency of care require an approach that bridges together the entire continuum of care. Smartphone technology, with its broad extensibility and compatibility with other communications technologies, will play an increasingly significant role in bringing this goal to fruition. To unlock the full potential of this technology, it is important for all stakeholders to be informed about ongoing developments and to advocate for new ways of employing mobile technology to improve outcomes across the entire system.