First Posted at Health Populi on 3/5/2013
Wearing his Walking Gallery jacket painted by (im)patient advocate, Regina Holliday, Dr. Eric Topol evangelized the benefits of digital medicine and consumer empowerment in health care, largely summarizing his epic (pun intended – wait for Hot Point, below) book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine. A founder of the West Wireless Health Institute (now known as West Health), Dr. Topol is a physician and researcher at Scripps and was recently named as editor at Medscape. A new piece of Topol Trivia for me is that GQ magazine called him a rock star of science. Dr. Topol is one of the more edgy keynote speakers at HIMSS, challenging traditional “population health” — that is, care delivered by physicians and hospitals that is the same protocol for every patient, regardless of their unique characteristics. He noted that since 2004, there are digital platforms that health care hasn’t yet harnessed — such as Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Pinterest — that other industries have. Calling out recent book titles, Race Against the Machine and The Third Industrial Revolution, Dr. Topol said, “the third industrial revolution hasn’t hit medicine.” He referred to this as Gutenberg Medicine. Starting with the iPod in 2001, Dr. Topol recounted the growth of mobile devices including the Blackberry in 2002, the smartphone in January 2007, up to e-readers and tablets. These have, “collectively changed our lives,” Dr. Topol explained, but at the same time have created a problem he termed “homo distractus.” In 1998 we humans had an attention span of about 12 minutes, which diminished to 5 minutes by 2008. Where is that attention span today, do you think, challenged Dr. Topol to the HIMSS13 spillover audience. Dr. Topol then talked about the positive role of patient social networks, naming PatientsLikeMe, MyBCTeam, Inspire, M:edHelp, CureTOgether, CureTogether, Better Health, CaringBridge among other groups who are crowdsourcing care and cures and providing patients with real-time support and counsel. And, IBM Watson is learning its way to saving lives, as attested by the latest mass media stories on the famous digital Jeopardy champion.