Dr Topol: Haven't used a stethoscope in 2 years

By Chris Gullo
07:46 am

Dr. Eric TopolThe future of mHealth is bright, according to West Wireless Health Institute vice chairman Eric Topol, who spoke this week at the opening keynote of the 2011 mHealth Summit. "This is a most momentous moment in medicine," he told the gathered audience. Topol's keynote discussion included current wireless medical products as well as future speculation that will leverage genomics with biosensor data to revolutionize personal health.

Topol's keynote, titled "The Creative Destruction of Medicine" after his recently released book, focused on Topol's belief that right now is medicine's "kairos", the Greek term for a supreme, opportune moment. "We're moving from the population level to the individual level" in health, he said. The digital world and the longstanding medical world cocoon are intersecting, creating an "extraordinary" convergence.

The digitized man is a big change that exemplifies the future of medicine. Topol said he recently used AliveCor's iPhoneECG to diagnosis a heart attack while on a plane trip. "Pretty darn impressive device," he said of the credit-card sized sensor. "It's just an idea of where we're going [in the future]. For the right people, it can make a big difference."

Topol spoke of the importance of the invention of the stethescope for medicine, then added that he hasn't used a stethescope to listen to a patient's heart in two years. "Why would you listen to a heart when you have an ultrasound in your pocket?" said Topol, then he did a live demonstration of GE's Vscan ultrasound device. Topol previously spoke on the subject of handheld devices "cannibalizing" existing medtech at the Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit in San Diego this summer, saying that '“stethoscope” is a term that is outdated because it implies the ability to “look” or scope into the patient’s chest. Topol said at the time he had little reason to only listen to a patient’s heartbeat again.

Topol also mentioned a company called DNA Electronics, who have created a handheld genome analysis system; a swab from the users' cheek analyses the users' genotype, and an app tells them the correct dose of Plavix or an alternative medicine to use.

Topol's keynote also included a hypothetical "Apps of the Future" discussion which include genetically-tailored apps for heart attack risk, cancer detection, and transplant rejection."This isn't crazy," he said. "It's the future...old medicine is about to change."

MobiHealthNews' coverage of the mHealth Summit 2011 is sponsored by Preventice.

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