Trishan Panch, MD, MPH, is co-founder and chief medical officer for digital health management provider Wellframe (www.wellframe.com). He is an MIT lecturer for Health Sciences and Technology and teaches Masters and PhD students at the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and MIT. Dr Panch is also on the advisory board of Boston Children's Hospital. He has set up and run primary care organizations in the US, UK, India, and Sri Lanka, providing comprehensive adult, pediatric, obstetric, and mental health care for complex populations in a mixture of urban and rural settings. I vividly remember the scene in the back office of my practice: clinical notes to the left of me, unsigned prescriptions to the right, and I was stuck in the middle looking at new quality metrics for our patient population.
It has become an undeniable fact of life that people are going to Google their health symptoms. However, as most physicians are reminded every day by patients who come to the hospital or office armed with their smartphones or printouts of their search results, the internet often leads people to draw erroneous or even harmful conclusions about their health. Fed up with the confusion and misinformation of patients he was encountering as a third-year medical resident in 2014, Harvard Medical School student Andrew Le thought there had to be a better way. Over the past three years, Le and his colleague Eddie Reyes worked with a team at the Innovation Laboratory at Harvard to develop a digital health tool that would function as a health-specific search engine while also giving patients pointers and compassion along the way. "Right now, the status quo is Googling symptoms and getting scared.
Two hundred years from now, medical tricorders like the ones depicted in Star Trek will be as common as tongue depressors. They'll be unremarkable, mobile tools on our SpaceX starships shuttling us back and forth to Mars. Diagnosing cancer will only take a single wave over our bodies with a palm-sized sensor. The reality, best embodied in two XPRIZE Tricorder competition finalists, is that the devices are somewhat ungainly and they feature distinctly 21st century diagnostic equipment. They work with mobile phones, but don't try hanging either one of them around your neck.
Despite new care delivery opportunities presented by venture capital-backed digital health startups, policymakers should question potential patient care risks that could arise from changing existing healthcare models, according to an opinion piece published by Health Affairs. Here are four things to know: 1. Authors Suhas Gondi, medical student at Boston-based Harvard Medical School, and Zirui Song, MD, PhD, assistant professor at Harvard and internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said three elements are driving venture capital growth in healthcare: lack of patient adherence, migration of medicine from the hospital and new payment models. In 2017, digital health received more than $11.5 billion from venture capital firms. Digital health firms providing solutions for patient-facing devices, provider-facing practice management software and payer-facing data analysis tools were among the companies backed.
Researchers at Mt. Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine in New York at have a unique collaborator in the hospital: Their in-house artificial intelligence system, known as Deep Patient. The researchers taught Deep Patient to predict risk factors for 78 different diseases by feeding it electronic health records from 700,000 patients. Doctors now turn to the system to aid in diagnoses. While not a person, Deep Patient is more than just a program. Like other advanced AI systems, it learns, makes autonomous decisions, and has grown from a technological tool to a partner, coordinating and collaborating with humans.