Author of 'The Creative Destruction Of Medicine' Dr. Eric Topol (@EricTopol) points to a growing number of apps and devices, none of which he is paid for using or endorsing, that are capable of measuring vital signs and then transmitting that data to smartphones. Whether it’s your blood sugar levels, your heart rate or your sleep habits, Topol believes we should track our own conditions through our phones and use that data to see patterns and warning signs of illness.
Topol speaks of a not-so-distant future where human beings are digitized through sensors in the bloodstream. He explains, “By having a sensor in the blood, we can pick up all sorts of things, whether it's cells coming off an artery lining [indicating heart attack], whether it's the first cancer cell getting in the bloodstream, whether it's the immune system revving up for asthma or diabetes or you name it. All these things, will be detected by sensors in the blood which will then talk to the phone.”
When describing medicine today, Topol says most doctors “fire into a black box, give someone medication, go home and pray." He argues that instead, in the near future, everyone should have his or her DNA sequenced which would reveal what diseases or conditions an individual is prone to, and also what types of drugs will or will not be effective for that particular individual. Topol is in full support of DNA sequencing, but there is some controversy regarding how effective DNA sequencing is when it comes to predicting illness.
Right now a full DNA sequencing costs about $2,500, but Topol expects that within the year, the cost will drop by more than half. It is his hope that DNA sequencing will soon be affordable for all.
Topol further predicts that finding a cure to ailments from cancer to heart disease depends on sharing our medical information. He insists that if we were serious about the war on cancer, every single person who had the disease would get his or her tumor genome sequenced, record treatment techniques and outcomes, and then make it all public knowledge. This data combined has extraordinary potential.
His enthusiasm is infectious as he describes his vision for the near future, “If we started to bring all this information together, the acceleration of knowledge and the transformation of what we could do for the future of disease would be extraordinary."