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Digital Health Revolution Long Awaited, Much Misunderstood

Jim Molpus, for HealthLeaders Media, January 17, 2012

There is a misconception, perhaps, that digital healthcare is the realm of "cool gadgets." Topol says the digital shift in healthcare started a few years back with health and fitness wireless devices and apps such as the heart rate monitors in Nike shoes. But cool gadgets are just the start of gathering much more precise data about people and their health. That technology has now moved to devices such as blood pressure monitors that can be worn continuously, or blood glucose monitors.

Imagine the precision if a cardiologist could see a patient's blood pressure tracked over an extended period of time, including during sleep or even at times of stress. "Who stops in the middle of an argument to check their blood pressure?" Topol says.

"I'm not suggesting we are all going to walk around with biosensors continuously," Topol says. "For example, there are more than 1 billion pre-diabetics on the planet, and we have warned them not to become diabetic. We have 400 million of those already. What if they could get their glucose every five minutes just for a week, and learn what are the foods and the lifestyle choices that are putting their pancreas into a high-gear mode we want to avoid? Wouldn't that be a great education for that individual, because each one has his own environment, own nutrition?"

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