Home / Blog / The Digitization of Medicine

The Digitization of Medicine

We read so much these days – including on this blog – about the Internet of Things and intelligent systems. Much of the focus is on “fun things”, liked the smart basketball we wrote about during March Madness (Smarter than the Average Basketball) or on consumer items, like the NEST Themostat. At Critical Link, we tend to get involved in more industrial applications: scientific instrumentation, test and measurement, transportation, communications, aerospace-defense… Most of the applications our SoMs are embedded in are behind the scenes, helping these applications run more efficiently, intelligently, and effectively, but most people don’t experience these applications up close and personal as they do, say, a smartcard swiped to buy a cup of coffee, or – as will increasingly be the case – monitor their health.

Dr. Eric Topol is perhaps the person most closely associated with the digitization of medicine. Last year, his book on the subject, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, was published.

I wasn’t familiar with the book, but I’ve put it on my reading list, since it’s a subject that I find both important and fascinating.

I read about in a piece that Brian Toohey, who’s the head of the Semi-Conductor Industry Association, had a few weeks back in EE Times.

Toohey was writing to stir up interest in the annual SIA Awards Dinner, coming up next week in San Francisco, where Topol will be the keynote speaker.

Not that I’m going to run out to California for the event, and it’s not like this type of event is my exact cup of tea, but it does sound like I’ll be missing an interesting speech:

What if your smartphone could help identify cancer cells in your blood or warn that you’re at risk of an impending heart attack? That’s one of the questions raised by Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science …It might sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, but life-saving medical breakthroughs like these are becoming a reality, thanks largely to advances in semiconductor technology. In the coming years, this digital revolution in medicine could have far-reaching and dramatic implications, changing the face of healthcare around the world.

Mobile sensors and advanced processors are also enhancing doctors’ understanding of their patients, leading to more personalized and effective ways to maintain health, detect problems, and treat illness. In our increasingly connected world, where about 6 billion people have access to mobile phones, this individualized healthcare data has the potential to be collected and distributed nearly instantly, resulting in improved care for people of all ages, in every area of the world, who suffer from virtually any disease, from diabetes to Alzheimer’s to breast cancer.

It’s easy (and fun) to get caught up in the gadgets that have come out of the digital revolution, or, as we do at Critical Link, on those industrial-strength applications that most of us aren’t aware of on a day to day basis.  Medicine is one area in which the consumer and the complex are at an intersection that will without a doubt change the way that healthcare is delivered.