Use remote monitoring for prevention, says West Wireless and Scripps leader Topol

For all we've written about the West Wireless Health Institute and related institutions and activities in the San Diego area, we haven't had much lately about Dr. Eric Topol, who co-founded the institute in La Jolla, Calif., last year. In keeping with his crazy schedule and limited availability, the San Diego Union-Tribune landed an interview with Topol, but had to conduct the interview via email.

Topol, a cardiologist and geneticist who heads the La Jolla-based Scripps Translational Science Institute, discussed rapid growth in wireless medical technology and how such devices soon will be central to preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and controlling health conditions. "The overarching objective is to prevent disease--and with this technology, we will have better chances than ever before," Topol says. "Diabetes is a prime example. If we use continuous glucose monitoring in an individual who is at risk to help train the person [about] what foods, what exercise, what weight, [and] lifestyle they should have, all will promote optimal blood sugar results and help prevent the disease from ever occurring."

He also discusses the similarities between wireless technology and the emerging field of genetics. "Both generate a deluge of data and require filtering, processing to get the distillate or 'juice' of the important information," he explains. "That is the stuff that is relayed to the physician and if it is done properly, it should not be a burden to keep up with the patient's monitoring." Topol also says that both genetics and wireless are wrestling with the same problems related to privacy and security of sensitive data.

Topol personally has had his genome sequenced, so he has been able to apply what he's learned to managing his own health with wireless technologies and behavior adjustments. "I know about my risk of Alzheimer's disease and my lifestyle of frequent rigorous exercise and a very healthy diet takes the knowledge of this and other genomic risks that I carry into account," Topol says. "I have used wireless sleep monitoring to improve my sleep and I am soon going to start measuring my glucose continuously [every 5 minutes] for a couple of weeks using a wireless sensor device. Then I'll know how to apply this in patients at risk of developing diabetes."

For more with Topol:
- read this interview in the San Diego Union-Tribune