How patients are transforming the healthcare industry

As patient engagement in healthcare grows and consumers generate more health data, a whole new layer of healthcare is set to emerge, according to Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

Topol (pictured), who earlier this year released a book on patient control of data called "The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands," recently spoke with fellow health IT guru and author Robert M. Wachter, M.D., about the future of patient data collection and technology in healthcare.

Four highlights from their conversation, published at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's website, include:

  1. Analytics are not there yet: While health IT has helped grow a collection of data, analytics are not yet the industry's "strong suit," Topol says. Currently, the industry is lacking "algorithms, data science, code doctors," he adds. "The field has not been developed nearly the way it should be to get us to the virtual medical assistant, which integrates all relevant data about an individual and provides great data visualization back to that person," he says.
  2. Emergence of tech companies: The growth of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and more in the health sector is due in part to the growth in ways to capture data through wearables and sensors, Topol says. "These tools have transformed the landscape and led to a remarkably opportune time to change medicine and data-fy it," he says.
  3. Challenges to patients controlling data: Topol says data collection is "not about treating oneself." Instead, he says, there still needs to be that relationship with a doctor who can guide the patient to the best treatment and oversee the information coming in through the apps or devices.
  4. The future workforce: Students, at the moment, are still trained for face-to-face visits and not as telemedical doctors, which will be the future, Topol tells Watcher. In addition, physicians in training should learn to use the devices, apps and other tools their patients will use, he says. 

Topol and Leonard J. Kish of, are making a push to allow individuals to seize ownership of their data "in order for the real benefits of a new, data-driven high-definition era of medicine to be actualized," FierceHealthIT recently reported.

To learn more:
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