American Public Media's Marketplace radio program had a quick piece on wireless medicine recently that included interviews with a number of doctors. Leslie Saxon, head of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Southern California, said during the program that she would guess there nearly a "half million patients with networked-implanted devices" like wirelessly-connected heart monitors.
"[These devices] sort of take the artificial out of medical care meaning that we see a patient, we get a snapshot in time. And we get some data. But we really don't get sense of how that patient's doing in their daily life." Always-on monitors can show doctors the full picture.
Greg De Lissovoy, a health economist and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the wireless medicine trend is gathering momentum at an impressive clip: "Technology tends to bubble along for quite a while and then all of sudden forces come together, and it starts gaining traction and that's where we are right now in this technology."
Of course, wireless medicine still has plenty of barriers to overcome. What's top of mind for Lissovoy? "I think the organizational barriers are one of the major issues. I mean this is a new way to practice medicine," he said.
Another great debate for health technologies in general is whether these technologies save lives and save money or just one of the two. UCLA Health Policy Professor Gerald Kominski lays it out for wireless medicine: "And that often is the case in health care that we end up getting better outcomes but in order to do that we have to spend more. It's difficult to find lost of good examples of true cost-saving technologies."