Eric Topol: Healthcare turning toward virtual doctor's office

The phrase "the doctor knows best" may be on its way out as health technology is leading to an age where medical decisions are not ordered but shared discussions between physicians and their patients, Eric Topol, M.D., says in an interview with the University of Toronto's Rotman Management Magazine.

"The doctor's office of the future is going to be largely virtual. And rather than just video chats ... there will be meaningful data exchanged between parties," the director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute says.

One of the factors that will have the biggest impact, Topol predicts, will be the ability for patients to continually monitor their glucose levels. Blood pressure monitoring also will have a great imminent impact, he says.

To that end, the industry is working on numerous ways to make glucose monitoring easier. On example is a technology-enabled artificial pancreas that will help with automated insulin delivery. Researchers soon will conduct trials on the system, which will include an insulin pump, glucose monitor and algorithm software embedded in a smartphone.

Tech giants also must become even more involved in healthcare, Topol says. Companies like Google, Apple and IBM can bring the expertise in big data and analytics to healthcare. Data scientists are sorely needed to make all the information coming in work.

"Right now we can collect data, and we can store it and hoard it," he says. "But our analytics capabilities in healthcare are terrible. I would even use the word pathetic; it's a huge problem."

To learn more:
- read the full interview (.pdf)