San Diego’s Eric Topol Outlines a Coming Wave of Innovation in Wireless Health

Xconomy San Diego — 

Here at Xconomy, our focus on technology innovation is usually riveted on the interface where startups get built around new inventions and discoveries. But in a presentation last night at TEDMED, Eric Topol highlighted an innovative new medical device from an industrial giant that was unveiled last week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco by GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.

A prominent cardiologist, Topol is director of the San Diego-based Scripps Translational Science Institute, chief medical officer of the West Wireless Health Institute in La Jolla, and chief academic officer at San Diego’s Scripps Health.

Eric Topol

Eric Topol

When he took the TEDMED stage at San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado, Topol took out a stethoscope and dropped it into a trash can—saying GE’s Immelt introduced a handheld ultrasound device on Oct. 20 that will make the stethoscope obsolete. It resembles a slightly oversized clamshell smart phone, with a small screen that can display ultrasound images of the heart and how well it is pumping.

GE Vscan

GE Vscan

Noting that the stethoscope was invented in 1816, Topol said, “In 2016, doctors will not be walking around with stethoscopes around their necks.”

For Topol, the handheld ultrasound is just one example of a wave of innovation that is expected to render obsolete many standard medical tools and instruments.

Topol told the audience that nowadays “You check your e-mail, you check the Web if you’re bored. In the future, you can check your vital signs—and I mean all your vital signs.” An iPhone display, projected on the big screen behind him, showed the electronic signature of a heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature, and oximetry (oxygen saturation of the blood). “What if on your phone you had every minute of your sleep recorded?” Topol asked. “What about counting every calorie?”

By combining advances in sensors, wireless communications, and information technologies, Topol said it is becoming easier to … Next Page »

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3 responses to “San Diego’s Eric Topol Outlines a Coming Wave of Innovation in Wireless Health”

  1. I can attest to the fact that wireless applications are poised to be exploited within the cardiovascular ultrasound industry.

    Real productivity will ensue when the physician can use the hand carried ultrasound device for RX orders, chart and lab data retrieval, texting, e-mail and phone.

    The notion of a physician sitting in front of a qwerty is already being challenged by recent med school grads who expect an app for their every need on their mobile device.

    Jobs and improved patient care will hopefully be two of the results of this new wireless industry.

    Tim Thigpen