- counting steps is being used to improve clinical outcomes;
- smartphone cameras diagnose skin lesions with accuracy equivalent to or exceeding that of physicians; and,
- similar applications for determining blood pressure and glucose levels are in use.
With ~67% U.S. adults owning smartphones and 25%+ having used sensors to track their activity, digital medicine is on the rise and is unlikely to abate in the future.
Advocates argue that the digital medicine revolution will drive down the healthcare cost curve. Perhaps. But, first, consider digital education. It certainly hasn’t driven down the education cost curve. Quite the opposite!
More importantly, who will be privy to the data being collected? While laws are already in place protecting patient rights (HIPPA, for example), what’s to keep the federal government (through the Department of Health and Human Services, for example) from aggregating those data—in much the same way the federal government already stores and aggregates email data—for its purposes? What about hackers illegally acquiring “secure” health data of public figures and leaking those data for nefarious purposes? Then, too, what about those data being sent digitally to a patient’s healthcare provider without the patient’s prior approval?
In theology, there’s a dictum: “For every grace given, there’s an equal and opposite danger present.” The technology associated with digital medicine is wonderful if not miraculous. But, how that technology can be used presents many dangers about which consumers should be aware.
Let the discussion begin…
To read the JAMA article, click on the following link: