Digital Health Revolution Long Awaited, Much Misunderstood

Jim Molpus, January 17, 2012

First let's dispel one thing about revolutions: no one reading this column who works in healthcare is going to start one, except maybe in your respective capacities as consumers of healthcare. Revolutions come when a critical mass of people—18th-century French serfs or overtaxed colonists—decide there is a better way.

So if anything, the work being done by hospitals, health systems, physicians, and IT companies in creating electronic health records and smart devices is mere road-paving for a new way of practicing medicine that is hopefully not too far off—just in time to save healthcare from collapsing in its own inefficiency.

Eric Topol, MD, cardiologist and chief academic officer at Scripps Health, hopes that his new book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, will help nudge consumers and a few other constituencies into seeing the true potential of digital health to flip the paradigm, as suggested by the book's subtitle, "How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care."

"Probably the better term is digital medicine or digitizing human beings," Topol told HealthLeaders in an interview. "We are in a Stone Age of medicine still. In the book I paraphrase a quote from Voltaire that 250 years ago we did not know what we were doing in medicine, and 250 years later we have not made a lot of progress. This is a chance to take medicine to a whole new, precise, participatory era."

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon