Monday, February 4, 2013

How the Digital Revolution Will Change Healthcare

Rahlyn Gossen is the founder of Rebar Interactive, a clinical trial patient recruitment and digital marketing company. Rahlyn also maintains a blog, newsletter, and Twitter profile focusing on digital strategy for clinical trials.

“Automating a broken process won’t provide the fix.”

That’s what Dr. Eric Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine, wrote about electronic health records (EHRs). His statement struck me because, though tucked in a paragraph about EHRs, it could easily apply to clinical trials. In fact, his statement could apply to many aspects of modern healthcare.

Dr. Topol’s excellent book is part call-to-action and part glimpse into a science fictionesque medical future. It reads like a private tour of the challenges of, as well as the solutions for, the current healthcare system. Topol explores the exciting evolution of wireless sensors, genomics, imaging, information systems, mobile connectivity, the Internet, social networks, computing power, and more.

Individually, these topics are fascinating innovations. But combined they offer an inspiring opportunity for meaningful healthcare transformation. It is the convergence of individual technologies, Topol argues, that will spur the creative destruction of medicine. Though technology is central to Topol’s book, technology itself is merely the beginning.

Ultimately, we need new healthcare models in order to truly benefit from technological advancement. And those new models will not be ushered in by tepid incrementalism, but rather born through “creative destruction” of broken processes. Hence, the title of Topol’s book, which is inspired by mid-twentieth century Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter.

Topol offers a tantalizing hint of what these new models might look like. For example, it is a future where:
  • • Implanted “closed-loop” nanosensors detect abnormalities and release needed medication, essentially treating patients via autopilot.
  • • Genomics and social network analysis converge to improve our ability to investigate infectious disease outbreaks.
  • • CME credits are delivered via remote learning experiences similar to Khan Academy and MIT’s Open-CourseWare.
Topol also puts forth his vision for a “rebooting” of the life sciences industry. In part two of this blog, which will be posed on Wednesday, I’ll discuss that vision.

Or if you want to do even better, you can hear Topol’s drug development predictions directly from the Dr.’s mouth. He will be speaking at the 22nd Annual Partnerships in Clinical Trials, which will take place April 21-24, 2013 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Topol will present a keynote titled, “The Future of Drug Development in a Digital World.” Following the presentation, he will also participate in a panel titled “The Key to Connectivity: Opportunities for Disruptive Innovation in Clinical Trials.” Topol, along with fellow panelists Craig Lipset from Pfizer and James Heywood from PatientsLikeMe, will push attendees to transform clinical trial practices.

For more information on this track and the rest of the program, download the brochure. As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us, you'll receive 15% off of the standard rate, use the special registration code, which is XP1800REBARBL2.

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