Doctors Will Play New Roles as Wearable Tech Evolves

Data gathered from wearable devices that is shared with your doctor through an opt-in, real-time secure connection is what we are calling “intelligent data.”

As wearable health and wellness technology begins to flood the market, could consumers rely too heavily on these devices and apps to make decisions about the state of their own health care without consulting a doctor?

Yes and No.

Yes, because consumers could conclude false assumptions based on health data that they don’t fully comprehend.

And, no, because sensors in wearable devices—such as fitness trackers—are encouraging individuals to live healthier lifestyles by gamifying the experience.

The experiences that wearables are creating for individuals is a positive trend and one that we only see growing. Rumors swirl around Apple’s highly anticipated launch of iWatch and the introduction of its first health and fitness-tracking app, Healthbook. Google is also making strides in collecting data about our health through search trends and the recently announced Android Wear. This will only increase Google’s health-related data consumption.

The global market for wearable medical devices is estimated to hit $5.8 billion in 2019, up from $2 billion in 2012, according to a report from Transparency Market Research.

Health data collected from wearables is useless unless you know how to interpret the results. Data gathered from wearable devices that is shared with your doctor through an opt-in, real-time secure connection is what we are calling “intelligent data.” This is data gathered from smart devices, and then shared with your doctor in real-time before being added to your patient profile. Unlike a visit to the doctor today, during which a patient is able to provide only a slim snapshot of his or her current medical condition, “intelligent data” provides a complete beginning-to-end medical profile. This provides a more holistic picture of an illness for the doctor to consider when making a diagnosis.

Doctors of the future will act as interpreters of the data gathered from wearable devices and new technological breakthroughs. Doctors will then be able to help guide patients through the process of making intelligent decisions based on the data gathered from their wearable devices combined with their medical history. Data collected from wearable devices will not be enough to make serious medical decisions. There has to be a marriage between data and clinical judgment.

In the future, using intelligent data, doctors will be able to forecast the likelihood of a patient—both in the developed and developing worlds—acquiring a specific disease by mining anonymized data gathered from wearable devices and comparing it against a patient’s medical history. The foundation for this process is currently in place, as the World Health Organization and others have researched and developed models to predict infectious disease outbreaks using data mining techniques.

With the introduction of free Wi-Fi, like we’ve seen on select City Buses in Nairobi, Kenya, reliable Internet access is starting to grow in developing nations. As more developing nations come online, the anonymized data gathered from wearable devices will give doctors around the world a better glimpse into global health trends based on location, age and gender.

A fast Internet connection, combined with Google Glass, one of the industry’s most talked-about wearables, will allow doctors to broadcast surgeries in real-time to specialists around the world. These remote doctors will be able to walk the local doctor through a procedure that was once only possible in an industrial nation. “Google Glass has some clear utility in the clinical setting, and foreseeably a great potential to favorably impact medical and surgical practitioners in their daily activities,” say the authors of a report in the International Journal of Surgery.

Rise of the ‘Instant On’ Doctor

In the current medical system, a lab orders a test and has the results a few hours or several days later. Soon after, the patient is contacted and a treatment plan of action is designed. It’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of all clinical decisions are driven by lab tests. In the very near future, data will be streamlined and patients may expect an immediate response. But not all data is vital and not all data should be acted on immediately. The data must be “intelligent” and the action must make clinical sense.

While wearable technology will give consumers new insights into their health, patients must exercise caution before jumping to conclusions and allow doctors time to work as they sift through a patient’s complete medical data stream.

How consumers adapt to these changing trends in technology will ultimately depend on the adoption rate of the marketplace and the trust they place in the system providing doctors with instant access to their medical condition. Only then will doctors be able to adapt, understand, and embrace the long-term positive health implications that wearable technologies will have in a changing global health environment.

Doctors Will Play New Roles as Wearable Tech Evolves is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte and Dr. Peter D. Weiss, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, Co-Founder of Rodeo Drive Woman’s Health Clinic and a former National Health Care Adviser to Senator John McCain’s Presidential Campaign in 2008 that was originally published on General Electric’s Reports.

Dr. Peter Weiss, MD: The Innovation Interview

Dr. Peter Weiss, MD, F.A.C.O.G., Co-Founder of the Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Center shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and the future of Health Care.

Dr. Peter Weiss graduated with honors in Gynecology from the University of Michigan school of Medicine. He has become a nationally known figure in women’s health, speaking in numerous lectures to both physicians and laymen alike. His topics of expertise have included hormone replacement therapies, stem cell treatments, advanced treatments for uterine fibroids and high risk pregnancies to name just a few. Dr. Weiss has been seen and heard on many national television and radio talk shows. He has also been quoted in many magazine publications.

As an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Weiss has been involved with teaching medical students and resident physicians. An attending physician at Cedars Sinai Medical center for the past 20 years has afforded Dr. Weiss a unique perspective on the changes involving health care today. He has been counsel to many legislative thought leaders on both sides of the isle in advancing women’s health care issues. He has also co-authored several recent papers on bioterrorism and health care.

Dr. Weiss is a former National Health Care Adviser to Senator John McCain’s Presidential Campaign in 2008.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

I would define innovation as thinking in a new and decisive way. Innovation could be simply improving an old technique or as original as inventing a new surgical instrument.

The simpler the solution, the greater chance there is mass adoption and success of the product or service.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

Health Care services, not big pharma, but the actual service of health care which is hands-on patient care. As health care evolves we need to ensure that we do not lose sight of the patient’s needs.

When a patient requires hospitalization or they need to check in for a procedure, we must make sure that the hospital experience is comfortable for the patient and their family. The hospital should be a calm environment with clean, inviting areas for patients and families to sit while they wait.

The greatest innovation that a hospital could implement is to make an individual’s stay more comfortable with less friction points to ensure a quality experience. Hospitals should look to the hospitality industry and luxury hotel brands to learn best practices on how to ensure a wonderful stay.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

Always look at every opportunity you are presented with carefully. Windows of opportunity only stay open for a short while. Do not be afraid to look inside.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

My children. Being able to watch them grow and interact with the outside world has truly been a blessing.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Physical. There is something to touch, feel and smell. Just like a good old comfortable couch.

What is the future of healthcare in America?

Not promising as the future of medicine in America is a computer algorithm that will decide the diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient rather than a professional Doctor. Health Care will suffer as Doctors will not be able to spend the proper amount of time with their patients to build meaningful relationships of trust.

80% Americans will be fine under the new bell shaped Health Care curve, it is the 10% on either side of the curve that will suffer.

Why did you decide to go to Nepal and setup safe birthing centers?

To get back to where medicine and real hands-on care has a life and death impact. It is where a Doctor looks into a patient’s eyes and does what actually matters.

There are No Computers, No Emergency Rooms, No Affordable Health Care Laws and No Government Agency telling me what I can say, or do. There are zero mandates that I must follow besides taking care of the patient. This is the real practice of medicine.

As the wearable technology market expands and companies such as Apple move into the health and wellness sectors, how will Physicians change their business models to adapt to new technologies?

The future will not require patients to actually go to see a Doctor in his or her office. A patient will be able to get a full physical from the comfort of their own home. BP, Vital signs, even EKG’s will be able to be obtained from wearables.

Most medical information will be provided by super medical computers. The role of the Physician will hopefully revert back to counsel and advice. The Physician will be tasked with determining how to best interpret the information he or she receives. Physicians will become the “translators” of health information.

Last year Dr. Christopher Kaeding, a surgeon at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center successfully performed surgery wearing Google Glass and streamed it to colleagues and medical students. Based on Dr. Kaeding’s success, how do you envision Google Glass in the medical field evolving and what potential does Google Glass have for Doctors?

I find this exciting. Google Glass will allow many students and fellow Physicians as well as patients to see POV surgeries. This will be mostly educational for the students but can be a great teaching tool for third world countries and for surgeons learning a particular procedure.

How do you envision healthcare technology evolving over the next five years and what impact will it have on patients?

As I mentioned earlier, the future is now, it may take longer than 5 years, but in 25 years people will be looking back and think how arcane medicine was. To paraphrase Pogo, “We have met the enemy of success, and he is us”.