Every Heart Beat Measured and Quantified

Today, we have thousands of health and fitness apps connecting us to digital “coaches” and helping us socialize with our friends, but we don’t have a medical platform. We don’t have a medical Google, or an Amazon, or a Facebook. We don’t even have an AOL of medicine. What we mostly have is a Wikipedia for medicine, which I and my fellow clinicians and colleagues quote daily. (That’s a good thing.)

We have had some big successes with digital medicine. In my field about six years ago, device companies started putting antennas into implanted devices. We now analyze data from those devices in more than 200,000 patients. We’ve collected information on 20 million device downloads, recorded 150,000 life-saving interventions, and collected millions of pieces of valuable additional data. The numbers were clear. Here is what we’ve learned:

If you open up this implanted device to the network, people live longer.

We live longer and healthier lives when our health is continuously monitored by a device and exceptions to normal health are reported by the device to our caregivers. The technology exists and is often very inexpensive. It keeps people out of hospitals; saving money and lives. We’ve proven that.
So why aren’t we doing more monitoring? It’s not a regulatory problem or a lack-of-vision problem in the medical and technology companies; it’s that there’s too much perceived risk in changing the medical structure.

What an amazing quote from an article in Venture Beat. Yes, the article was written in April, but it is just as applicable today. Go and read the whole thing since it’s well worth it.

For those who don’t read the whole thing, it’s written by a wonderful doctor named Leslie Saxon of the USC Center for Body Computing. At the end of the article she talks about their Every Heart Beat initiative and compares it to the Human Genome Project. I think the collection of health data and its use has as many potential benefits as the human genome.

I love Dr. Saxon’s call to open up the data from devices to the network. Doing so will make people live longer. What I don’t understand is why the medical world is so resistant to this idea. I love Dr. Saxon’s vision of, “Imagine your doctor calling you to schedule an appointment because she knows the condition of your body, rather than vice versa.”

What do we need to do to reach this vision?