Eric Topol: Beware of 'gimmicky' tech in concierge startup

New health gadgets generate buzz, but outsiders still need to validate their approach.

Following an onslaught of media attention devoted to a Silicon Valley startup that integrates high-tech gadgets into a concierge service, one vocal proponent of health IT innovation is advising caution when it comes to glitzy new technology.

Forward, a futuristic medical clinic created by former executives at Google and Uber, drew plenty attention from media outlets (including FierceHealthcare) for its use of genetic screening tests, body scanners and wearable sensors, available to patients for a $149 monthly fee.

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But this type of full-fledged gadget integration should be met with at least some level of caution and skepticism, Eric Topol, M.D., director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, told MedCity News.

“I would be firstly interested in what new tools they are using" and if they're proven, validated and well-accepted, he said, adding that some of the technology at Forward appears unnecessary and “gimmicky.”

A Forward spokesperson told MedCity News that all of the devices are FDA-approved, but did not provide any validated data showing that the technology was a marked improvement over existing technology. 

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Topol has been a major proponent of healthcare innovation, voicing his support for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and advocating for a virtual doctor’s office. But he has also said new medical technology must be validated.