John Nosta: 'Digital natives' to drive technological revolution in medicine

The biggest changes to come in the medical industry down the road will be at the hands of those who have grown up surrounded by technology all their lives, according to digital health philosopher John Nosta.

These digital natives, Nosta tells Real Business, are going to drive the technological revolution in medicine. They have grown up with a smartphone in their hands, he says, and that will cause the role of mobile health technology to undergo a change.

"The role of the smartphone or handheld device to aid in a differential diagnosis or a clinical scenario may become much more mainstream as we see this generation of medical students graduate," Nosta says.

More than 50 percent of U.S. hospitals are using smartphones and or tablets and 69 percent of clinicians are using both a desktop/laptop and a smartphone/tablet to access data, according to the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Mobile Devices Study, published last month. One-third of respondents polled believe smartphones and tablets will drive overall efficiency in care by eliminating redundancies and view mHealth devices as having a positive impact on care quality and coordination.

"Clinicians currently using this technology also offered numerous suggestions about how the next generation of smartphones and tablet computers could better help them support patient care," Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research at HIMSS Analytics, told FierceMobileHealthcare. "A few examples include improved access to clinical information housed in EHR and other sources, ability of smartphones and tablet computers to enhance clinician workflow and improved tools for interacting with patients."

Nosta says that digital native patients likely will begin to know more about their healthcare than possibly even the physician does. He uses the parents of children with cancer as an example, who he says "take such an active role in the child's care that they monitor the data in an extraordinary way."

There also will be new roles coming to the industry, such as that of information specialist, and the work laboratory and medical technician perform may grow to include genetic analysis and diagnostic imaging, Nosta says. More stakeholders, including paramedics and nurses, will be empowered by emerging technologies, he adds.

To learn more:
- read the Real Business interview