Christian Long

Eric Topol: The Wireless Future of Medicine

In TED Talks on May 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Reflection by ALEX C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Eric Topol:  The Wireless Future of Medicine

I want to be a doctor when I grow up. That’s why I chose this talk because I thought it would be interesting to know just how medicine is advancing with the advances in technology. I can say that I was surprised at what is already available, but I was also disappointed because I didn’t know about these things and I was disappointed about what is coming in the future.

Now at first I thought that what Mr. Topol had to share was very interesting and that the new advances in wireless medicine were very nice and beneficial, but then I scrolled down to the comments. Keep in mind that he was responding to someone else’s comment, but this is what I read:

“I’m not really opposed to these technologies, but I have to agree that this doesn’t get to the cause of disease. This is not PREVENTIVE medicine, it is PREEMPTIVE. It only allows us to detect and treat the disease/sickness earlier. What we need is to improve prevention of sickness. That comes from teaching people to stop eating crap and doing stupid things to their bodies.” – Nathan Cashion

This made me think… and think.

Isn’t he right? Shouldn’t we be taking preventive actions not preemptive. For those of you who struggle with big words (like me) Preemptive, according to, means to take a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared. Preventive means of or noting a drug, vaccine, etc., for preventing disease. Which one sounds better to you? Instead of preparing for something bad to happen shouldn’t we be trying to find a way to stop something bad from happening.

Forgive me if I am not seeing this from his stand point. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe his job is to work on preemptive research while someone else works on the preventive research. I just hope that someone is working on the preventive side.

I remember when my mom got diagnosed with cancer, I was 11. I knew what cancer was, but I never thought in all my life that someone so close to me would get it. Fortunately she survived and is now a “graduate” of cancer according to her doctor.

There were many interesting things that I thought were very useful. Mr. Topol showed us a little patch that he ears on his chest that monitors all the vital signs that are read at the hospital. The little pad, the size of my palm, monitored heart rate, oxygen level, fluid status, temperature, and respiration. The more remarkable part was that the information could be sent to a computer or right back to your phone or to your doctor’s phone. Now this would so very useful, most doctors have smart phones imagine the minutes that could be saved if your phone beeped at you if a patient was dying versus a nurse having to page you. Imagine if someone was home alone and they had a heart attack the paramedics could be notified sooner.

Although I thought this was interesting it was also a disappointment. How come the common day people did not know of this? I’m sure that if people knew that technology like this existed then people would be jumping to get one. They could have peace at mind knowing that someone is watching over them if an accident were to occur. I think that technologies like this need better PR agents. But maybe these knew technologies are too expensive and that is why they haven’t been announcing it to the public.

This talk proves that there are many advances being taken in medicine with the growing advances in technology whether they be preemptive or preventive. I hope that most diseases can be cured and I hope that the modern consumer can take advantages of these technologies.


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