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The Patient Will See You Now

The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands

By Eric Topol
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol
Synopsis

The medical world is on the brink of a revolution thanks to new and future technology like Big Data health maps and bacteria scanners that can attach to smartphones. Power is shifting from the doctor to the patient, and self-treatment and self-diagnoses are becoming unprecedentedly powerful. The Patient Will See You Now (2015) outlines these changes and what they mean for both you and the healthcare world.

Key idea 1 of 8

Smartphones allow greater access to medical information and will soon give patients much more power to diagnose themselves.

Smartphones have revolutionized much of our lives. They provide easy access to unprecedented amounts of information with only a simple mobile connection, which is available to 95 percent of the population. They’ll no doubt have a big impact on medicine, too.

Smartphones will soon make autonomous medicine possible, that is, they’ll allow people to diagnose themselves. We already have some tools for it, such as the app SkinVision.

SkinVision allows you to send a photo of a skin lesion to a doctor, who can determine whether it’s benign or not.

And photos are just the beginning. Microscopic scans will soon have such powerful zooms that we’ll be able to scan ourselves for certain types of bacteria. Tuberculosis is diagnosed by checking a sputum sample for the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Soon, anyone with a smartphone will be able to test themselves for tuberculosis.

Smartphones also have the potential to radically change the health situation in countries where people don’t have easy access to medical professionals. In 2010, the average number of doctors and nurses per 1,000 inhabitants in sub-Saharan African countries was 1.1. In the United States, the figure was 12.3.

Mobile connections also provide people with greater access to health information. In 2013, over 630 million people in Africa had cell phones, 93 million of which were smartphones. Even non-smartphones can have an impact on public health. The South African project Masiluleke, for example, sends millions of text messages every day encouraging people to get checked for HIV/AIDS.

But, of course, smartphones are still more powerful. The biotechnology company Nanobiosym even recently unveiled Gene Radar, a tiny chip that plugs into a mobile device and can analyze a drop of blood or saliva for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. Gene Rader will allow people to diagnose themselves for those diseases at a cost ten times cheaper than the market price today.

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