Forus Health, for example, has built 3nethra—an inexpensive device for the early detection of common eye ailments. Sofomo Embedded Solutions markets Lifeplot—a 12-Lead mobile electrocardiogram (ECG). Agatsa is developing Sanket—a pocket-sized ECG with a display which does not require any leads or wires. NextServices has created enki – a mobile electronic health record platform Our smartphones already contain a wide array of sensors, including an accelerometer that keeps track of our movement, a high-definition camera that can photograph external ailments and transmit them for analysis, and a global positioning system that knows where we have been.
All of these devices can feed data into our smartphones and cloud-based personal lockers—turning this into a medical device. Gujarat-based Azoi, for example, is launching an iPhone case that tracks blood oxygen level, blood pressure, ECG, respiration, temperature, and has an attachment for reading lung functions.
Public Health Foundation of India has already built India’s first tricorder—an android based mobile system called the Swasthya Slate that can perform 33 diagnostics tests including blood pressure, sugar, hemoglobin, and ECG. It can also test for pregnancy, dengue, and malaria.
The device, which retails for Rs 34,500 has been tested and approved for use in eight districts in Jammu and Kashmir. It is more features than products I have seen in Silicon Valley.
When we get sick, we won’t need to go—in high temperature and in severe pain—to our doctors’ offices, only to wait in line with patients who have other diseases that we may catch. Our doctors will come to us over the Internet.
Telemedicine is already a fast-growing field, particularly in India’s villages and remote parts of the world—where doctors assist people using SMS, two-way video, and email. We too will see our doctors using video technologies on smartphones and tablets. Our body sensors will provide them with better medical data than they have today.Then, our smartphones will evolve further and do part of the job of doctors.
The same type of AI technology that IBM Watson used to defeat champions on the TV show Jeopardy will monitor our health data, predict disease, and advise on how to improve our health.
Already, IBM Watson has learned about all the advances in oncology and is better at diagnosing cancer than are human doctors. Watson and its competitors will soon learn about every other field of medicine, and will provide us with better, and better-informed, advice than our doctors do. They will take a more holistic view of our bodies, lifestyles, and symptoms than our doctors can. They will, after all, have our full medical history from childhood, know where we have been, and keep track of our medical data on a minute-by-minute basis.
Most doctors still work from brief, unintelligible, hand-scribbled notes and try to make a judgment about what medicines to prescribe us in a 10- to 15-minute consultation; they treat symptoms of interest rather than the holistic self.
Then there is the most revolutionary technology of all: genomics.We learned how to sequence the genome about a decade ago, and sequencing it cost billions of dollars. Today a full human genome sequence costs as little as $1,000.