Health IT

Daniel Kraft: Tech tsunami in healthcare coming, but are there right platforms to catch wave?

Daniel Kraft, a regular on the healthcare conference circuit spoke at the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovations Summit and asked whether healthcare has the right platforms to catch the data and tech wave headed our way.

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Last week at the Cleveland Clinic’s annual Medical Innovations SummitDaniel Kraft, chair of medicine and neuroscience at Singularity University, and an oncologist, painted a dazzling picture of a healthcare future where digital tools empower everyone and can solve several of healthcare’s bigger problems.

But he also posed a question whose answer will be borne out over the next few years: The tech and data tsunami is coming, but do we have the right platforms in place to catch the wave?

Kraft isn’t your average oncologist. A Stanford and Harvard trained physician-scientist, Kraft’s clinical work focuses on bone marrow/hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for malignant and non-malignant diseases in adults and children and on medical devices that enable stem cell-based regenerative medicine. Ever the tech evangelist, Kraft described how medicine and technology – including popular consumer devices can be combined to deliver molecular-level disease diagnosis and treatment.

The wave of technology is surging, tsunami-like, into view. And as it rushes toward us, the cost of those tools is dropping almost as rapidly as our options are growing.

“You can triage at home,” said Kraft. “A smartpatch now collects all the data they do in intensive care.”

The ultrasound that once cost $100,000 can now be had with a $1,000 device that plugs into your smartphone. Speaking of your phone, that health app built into your iOS can be shared with your doctor.

Kraft ‘opted in’ to share information with his doctor and “now he can see my data…it’s like a FICO score for healthcare.”

ResearchKit and CareKit are two other apps that allow researchers to “gather robust and meaningful data,” Apple’s website explains.

Many in the audience were probably familiar with some of those apps, programs, and products.  And Kraft had dozens more on the tip of his tongue.

“There’s Zipdrug,” said Kraft. “And electroceuticals. Imagine a contraceptive implant with a remote. What if you misplace the remote? What if someone hacks the remote?”

The audience laughed at that idea, but it stopped as the recognition of an approaching tsunami started to sink in. Kraft implied that how we handle the data will either heal us or further hamper healthcare.

“We have terabytes of data. But what are we going to do with all of it?,” Kraft asks.

If managed well, Kraft says, the technology that is allowing for “the Uberization of healthcare… (could) basically bring back the house call,” and make more effective, personalized healthcare the new standard.

But he acknowledged it won’t be easy, and in fact, the onslaught of information could get in the way of the doctor-patient relationship if systems aren’t in place to put the technology and data to good use.

“Doctors can’t log into all of their patients’ records every day,” he said. “We need OnStar for the body to integrate it,” and to know what’s important, he said. 

Managing the mountains of data is one problem that remains to be solved. Who will pay for the devices that collect it is another. Yet another: creating systems to keep the data flowing to those who need to see it, while maintaining privacy and keeping our health data secure.

While Kraft is clearly a tech enthusiast and an early-adopter, he’s also realistic. Technology can help us manage our health, better than ever, but however technically advanced, devices cannot overcome the human factor.

“Behavior is still the cause of most of our top chronic diseases,” he noted.

Photo: Hong Li, Getty Images






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