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Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become part of our everyday lives. How can we harness these technologies and platforms to manage chronic diseases and improve patient health?

Contributors Respond

Brian Toohey

Brian Toohey

President & CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association

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Voltaire once said, "Doctors prescribe medicine of which they know little, to cure disease of which they know less, in human beings of which they know nothing."

Thanks to modern technology enabled by semiconductors and an increasingly forward-looking medical community, this old-fashioned health care paradigm is changing. But in order to expedite the digital revolution in medicine, health care professionals need to continue to aside old tools and methods and embrace cutting edge medical technology.

Increasingly, digital devices like mobile sensors and advanced processors are enhancing doctors’ understanding of their patients, leading to more personalized and effective ways to maintain health, detect problems, and treat illness. Technology like this doesn’t just make life more convenient; it empowers people to live healthier, happier, more productive lives.

In our increasingly connected world, where about 6 billion people have access to mobile phones, individualized health care data has the potential to be collected and distributed nearly instantly, resulting in improved care for people of all ages, in every area of the world, who suffer from virtually any disease, from diabetes to Alzheimer's to breast cancer.

The convergence of technology and medicine was a key focus at the annual Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) Award Dinner in November 2013. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Eric Topol – director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, a practicing cardiologist, and one of the top 10 most cited researchers in medicine – explored how digital innovations are set to catalyze one of the biggest and most important shakeups in the history of medicine.

Dr. Topol portrayed a not-too-distant future where your smartphone could help identify cancer cells in your blood or warn that you're at risk of an impending heart attack. It might sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, but life-saving medical breakthroughs like these are becoming a reality, thanks largely to advances in semiconductor technology.

In the coming years, the digital revolution in medicine could have far-reaching and dramatic implications, changing the face of healthcare around the world. And what was once reserved for science fiction movies could soon be reality.

Michael Barry

Michael Barry

Executive Director, American College of Preventive Medicine

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The growing burden of chronic disease, precipitated by the aging baby boom generation and the sedentary lifestyle of young Americans, is taxing the U.S. health care system and will require new models of care delivery and patient engagement. Health care is ready for innovation and technology that addresses the challenges we face as a nation. Over the past 20 years, the rapid introduction and adoption of technology has created intelligent and knowledgeable health care consumers and patients who expect easy-to-access innovation and an experience customized to their individual needs. Technology supports personalized health care that can help to prevent and manage chronic disease and improve patient health by helping to personalize the health care experience.

The success of healthcare reform is predicated on achieving improved health outcomes and reduced costs, which can be accomplished only by activating patients to become more engaged in their own care. Patient-facing technologies are playing a critical role in supporting patients to become more informed and activated and may also improve efficiencies. Mobile technologies are especially suited to assist patients in achieving health endeavors that require ongoing information, motivation, and support. Popular mobile applications cover a range of health behaviors. Early adopter health plans and clinical programs are now integrating mobile phone interventions into disease management programs for chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Tasks that can be achieved include data collection by the patient, monitoring by the medical team, feedback based on medical algorithms, health education targeted at the patient’s readiness level to make behavior change, and repeated motivational messages and reminders. Combined with social media and e-gaming, mobile health offers the potential to offer cost-effective and powerful solutions to a number of health and health care challenges.

The value of these technologies is not only in meeting the needs of individual patients, but also contributing to improved population health. As part of more organized systems of care (e.g., patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations, etc.), patient-facing technologies can play an important role in assisting providers to improve the health status of patient populations.