Topol: Consumer-Driven Healthcare Is an Uncomfortable Concept

|Disclosures|September 17, 2012
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Hi. I'm Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape Genomic Medicine and theheart.org.

In this series, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, emanating from the book I wrote, I am trying to zoom in on critical aspects of how the digital world will create better healthcare. The segment that we are getting into today is on consumer-driven healthcare.

This is a concept that a lot of physicians are very uncomfortable with. If you go back to the Gutenberg printing press, it was only then in the Middle Ages when the Bible and all the printed information could be read by others besides the high priest. In fact, that's an analogy of what is going to happen in medicine, because until now there has been this tremendous information asymmetry.

Essentially, all the data, information, and knowledge were in the domain of doctors and healthcare professionals, and the consumer, patient, and individual was out there without that information, not even their own data. But that's changing very quickly.

Patients will have the capability of accessing notes from an office visit and hospital records, as well as laboratory data and DNA sequencing -- and on one's smartphone, for example, blood pressure and glucose and all the key physiologic metrics.

When each individual has access to all this critical data, there will be a real shakeup to the old way that medicine was practiced. In the past, the Internet was supposed to be empowering for consumers, but that really didn't matter because what the consumer could get through the Internet was data about a population. Now, one can get data about oneself, and, of course, a center hub for that data-sharing will be the smartphone.

Even critical information based on one's genomic sequencing, such as drug interactions, will have a whole different look. We've already learned so much about the direct-to-consumer movement from the pharmaceutical industry in which patients were directed to go to their doctors and ask them for a prescription drug. That had a very powerful impact.

But in the future, with each person potentially armed with so much data and information, the role of the doctor is a very different one: It is to provide guidance, wisdom, knowledge, and judgment and, of course, the critical aspects of compassion, empathy, and communication. That is a whole different look for the consumer-driven healthcare world of the future.

Thanks so much for your attention to this segment. We will be back with more on The Creative Destruction of Medicine.

 
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Authors and Disclosures

Author

Eric J. Topol, MD

Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute; Chief Academic Officer, Scripps Health; Professor of Translational Genomics, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California; Editor-in-Chief, theheart.org, Medscape Genomic Medicine

Disclosure: Eric J. Topol, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:
Serve(d) as a consultant for: Quest Diagnostics

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