Forget Counting Steps. Quantifying Health Will Save Your Life.

One of the interesting things about healthcare
today is the data is becoming unsiloed and increasingly accessible. So for example, I’m
wearing right now a little patch from a company called Vital Connect underneath my shirt.
It’s talking to my smartphone live. And I can look at a dashboard of my data from my
full on EKG, which will show up right here and it can track the trends and hopefully
my EKG looks like it’s okay, if there are any cardiologist out there. I can also see
data about my steps, my stress level, my position. If I fall down and I don’t get back up, the
system can tell that. And this is really an intensive care unit like type level data in
what will be less than five dollar a day disposable patch, which can be useful if you’re training
for a marathon; if you’re in a hospital and you’re not on a monitored bed; if your home
with a disease like heart failure. That’s a lot of data. We need to learn to sift through
it and pull out the signals because no physician or nurse is going to want to be liable for
watching your life streaming EKG. But is an immense amount of power and data. And we’re
in this era now of creating digital health exhaust, whether it’s my smart watch, this
patch, my phone, it can tell a lot about me, my behaviors. If, for example, you have a
patient who’s got bipolar disorder, you can tell from their phone whether they’re depressed
or they’re manic. That can play a role in smart disease, disease management. We can
take technologies like 3-D printing and tune home-based prosthetics. We can print prosthetic
hands for folks and legs in the developing world. Here’s mini me in my pocket. It’s a
3-D printed version of me. That might be interesting if I need to make a prosthetic for someone
who has lost part of her face. Or I was at MIT Media Lab last week and met a young grad
student who diagnosed his own brain cancer, written up in the New York Times, and used
3-D printing to print a version of his tumor. He said hey, you want a print of my brain
tumor? This helped his surgeons do a better job of finding it and removing it. And he
was proactive. He noticed some neurologic symptoms and pushed for his own repeat MRI
that helped him get diagnosed earlier. I have in my pocket a new commercialized version
of a brain computer interface from a company called InteraXon. This is the muse. You can
wear this headset and kind of use this for appified mindfulness and meditation. And I
might use this to prescribe to a patient who has anxiety instead of giving them a drug
I’d give them a headset. Of course they could do meditation the old fashioned way
but this enables you to quantify it, have a bit of a feedback loop. So the ability to
sort of quantify our own minds with brain computer interface like this can be used to
treat everything from PTSD to ADHD. We’re going to see use of video games to improve
cognition or to treat disease. We’re seeing fancy brain computer interfaces from my alma
mater Brown University to enable someone who’s quadriplegic just by thinking to move a robotic
limb. And those are getting smaller and more integrated. And so the disabled in the future
may just think move my arm and it will be rewired back to their own arm even if they
had a spinal cord injury. So lots of ways to take, you know, sometimes consumer devices,
crowdsource new apps and platforms on these that will change neuroscience, psychiatry.
And when we can pull this data together we’ll become participatory in health care, we can
move to an era kind of like with Google Maps. You donate some data when you use Google Maps
– your privacy, your speed and your location. But in exchange you can build a map of the
streets and of the traffic so you get some information back. I think we can have that
same sensibility in health care whether it’s sharing your brainwaves, your genomics, your
wearable data while maintaining privacy and opt in abilities. You know using that information
can give us better public health, you know, early signals if it’s Ebola coming or the
common flu. Or it can enable patient groups to crowdsource better cures for Crohn’s
disease. For example there’s this new world of the microbiome. We have ten times more
bacterial cells in and on our bodies than our own human cells. We’re learning that
the microbiome plays a role in everything from obesity to inflammatory bowel disease
like Crohn’s disease. Maybe even some psychiatric disorders. And we’re starting to be in this
era of fecal transplants. And you can imagine in five, ten years you’re going to get a
cocktail of a probiotic that’s going to reboot your GI system to help treat diseases
or prevent them. So, a lot of these tools are going to enable the clinician. You’re
going to be going to your corner pharmacy in many cases to get medical care or telemedicine.
It’s going to enable you as an individual to own your own health information. There’s
already thousands of apps out there, some are better than others but you can use those
as tools to stay engaged in taking your vitamins and your aspirin or being on top of a much
more complex regiment. And the challenge for all of us is to integrate these in the culture
of health and medicine. You can have the best technology, but unless your clinician uses
it and gets paid for it in some cases, it may never be adopted. The payers of the world
need to start looking at how some of these can provide better outcomes at lower costs.
And even before they’re FDA approved, bringing these to market. And I think we’re seeing
many smart pharma companies, payers, physician groups think about how they layer these in
to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.


  1. But how do we stop hackers, criminals, governments and corporations from hacking all of our devices and manipulating them, and tracking and surveilling us and all of our data?

  2. ya all this shit will be easy to hack along with collecting meta data of my to private life to corporations.
    Fuck it all till there is hard core legislation to protect privacy.

    I pref to just progressively turn into an AI is that will turn into an option. Fuck this half steps.

  3. more bacterian cells than our own cells?
    didn't know musles were made out of bacteriae
    didn't know brain was so or the liver or the heart
    i agree we all have huge ammounts of bacterias living in our own, but ten times more bacteria than human cells is just ridiculous

  4. If you have patients with bipolar disorder , you can tell from their phone if they are depressed or manic . This is amazing man !!

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