Digital Health Care Advances

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The Consumer Electronics Show made clear that beyond being able to entertain us, personal technology can save lives.

The keynote presentation of Dr. Paul Jacobs, the CEO of Qualcomm, highlighted a number of recent and forthcoming advances in digital health care, including:


  • Fitbit: a wireless device that counts the number of steps a person takes each day.
  • Zeo: A device that not only monitors your sleep, but also identifies the quality of your sleep.
  • Corventis: Provides a PiiX device that remotely monitors patients' hearts.
  • General Electric: A VScan handheld device that captures ultrasound images.

The products were demonstrated during the Jacobs keynote by Doctor Eric Topol, chief medical officer for West Wireless Health Institute and chief academic officer for Scripps Health, who also showed the ability to remotely track patient vital signs using a smartphone application.

Topol noted that the average hospital bed costs per day about the same as the presidential suite in an average hotel, so the goal for containing health care costs should be to keep people out of the hospital. For example, people spend $37 billion a year on treating heart failure in the United States and more than 140 million Americans have chronic diseases such as heart failure that could benefit from digital technologies.

Jacobs added that just like the general population, the average age of doctors also is increasing. That means that as more doctors retire, it will become increasingly important to improve the productivity of doctors by relying on sensors that will soon be "embedded all around us."

So just maybe, the concept of health care reform should be expanded to include the mainstream adoption of digital technologies that can probably pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.