Digital health technologies promise a future for healthcare that is more personalized and more rapid than ever before. With advances in the use of wireless health technology, doctors can now check on their patients’ pacemakers and make any necessary adjustments remotely. A patient could be in Cancún and a doctor in Finland, but they could still use technology to virtually come together and improve that patient’s health.
Ultrasound imaging is part of the disruption in medicine. I was recently fortunate enough to begin a pilot with Philips Healthcare on a mobile smart probe that is connected to a tablet resulting in a powerful diagnostic ultrasound machine (similar to the VISIQ device also introduced in Ghana in 2014). The technology offers numerous advantages especially in the underserved population where regular ultrasound imaging is often not accessible.
For billions of people—especially in Asia and Africa, where there is more limited access to medical care—this mobile ultrasound ecosystem has the potential to connect them with first-world medicine and technology that is literally in the palm of their hands. With more than 90 percent cell phone adoptability in most African economies, it is hoped that this could translate to real-time access to medical care through the power of the cloud.
I predict that the very nature of what I do as a heart surgeon will change. For example, invasive open heart surgery to replace heart valves is currently being replaced with percutaneous heart valves placed through a keyhole incision in a patient’s groin. In the future, the new normal will be personalized medicine with genomic profiling overseen by healthcare managers who can remotely monitor your health and answer your questions on health-centric social media sites. The prospects are most exciting for emerging economies that are coming online for the first time and are eager to take every advantage of connected healthcare.
Let the disruption begin.