New Technologies Changing the Future of Health and Medicine
In his keynote address at the American Pharmacists Association's general session, Daniel Kraft, MD, chairman of the medicine and neuroscience tracks for Singularity University, posited that it is time to think outside the box and reimagine health and pharmacy.
In his keynote address at the American Pharmacists Association’s general session, Daniel Kraft, MD, chairman of the medicine and neuroscience tracks for Singularity University, posited that it is time to think outside the box and reimagine health and pharmacy.
The path to that reinvention will be aided by technology, which is quickly becoming faster, smaller, cheaper, and better, Dr. Kraft argued. Technology will help shift episodic and reactive health care to proactive and continuous health care. It will also provide solutions to some of the major challenges in health care, such as inefficient use of information, access to health, and cost.
One of the biggest shifts in technology has been that the use of multiple devices is now shrinking down to 1: a smartphone. Dr. Kraft gave several examples of apps that will transfer data more easily from patients to their health care team and also will empower patients with their own health information.
The iBGStar app, for example, can help patients with diabetes better manage their glucose levels. Each time the patient takes a reading, the app syncs that data into a “scorecard” for the patient, which he or she can share with pharmacists or other members of the health care team. Another app, Alive ECG, which is FDA-approved, provides electrocardiography readings that can be shared with a cardiologist, Dr. Kraft said.
Dr. Kraft referenced a Mayo Clinic study that found that the use of an app in cardiac rehabilitation can reduce emergency department visits and hospital readmissions by 40%.
“[The technology] is here now,” Dr. Kraft said. “It just needs to be leveraged and integrated into the care process. I think pharmacists can play a key role in that.”
Those familiar with the Uber car service may not be aware that the company also offers UberHealth in certain areas, noted Dr. Kraft. UberHealth can provide medications to patients’ doorsteps and send reminders about medication refills. Likewise, a company called QuiQui offers automated drone delivery of pharmacy items in certain locations.
Wearables will empower patients to be the CEOs of their own health, Dr. Kraft said. FitBit, for example, can help patients track their sleep and exercise, while patches worn on the skin can measure heart rate.
In addition, medications will be better managed and matched for patients using pharmacogenomics and personalized information from the patient, with the rising emphasis on precision medicine.
With an influx of digitized health information, health care professionals and patients will have to leverage the data in order to realize improved outcomes.
New technology, like “OnStar for the body,” could serve as a check engine light for health with earlier detection of diseases and the capability of calling paramedics if something seriously wrong is detected in the body.
Mobile health may be both “disruptive and enabling” for pharmacies, Dr. Kraft said, but the key is to embrace the technology. He encouraged pharmacists to learn more about the technology available right in their pockets, and get creative.
“Don’t wait for the future to come,” Dr. Kraft said. “The future is coming faster than we think.”