As part of my regular rounds at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, I check on one of my heart patients who is recovering from cardiac surgery. I monitor his blood pressure, his glucose and lipid levels lipid levels, his heart rate and other vitals.
But this patient isn’t in Israel. Or even the Middle East. He’s actually in Cleveland in the United States. And it’s the rapid rate of technology that is making this all possible.
At Sheba, we are redesigning medicine at an incredible speed. We are taking technologies that are being developed or already exist and using this progress to transform and improve healthcare. It does our patients a disservice to use the same medical techniques that were used 20 years ago, or in some cases even two years ago.
My cardiac patient is using wearable technology (think a high-tech smartwatch) and a tailored smartphone application that is allowing an entire care team to monitor his recovery from across the world. Working with him is myself (a cardiologist), a dietician, physiologist and other healthcare providers. Every night, he answers questions about his physical and mental wellbeing. The technology allows us to integrate all this information in just minutes so the healthcare team can make the best decisions possible for our patient.
The data collected is transformed into actionable knowledge through the collaboration of man and machine. It’s not that artificial intelligence is taking over healthcare. It’s just allowing us, humans, to do our jobs better and more easily. And the new frontier of medicine will look pretty familiar because it’s happening in your own home.
Wearable technology allows a patient who has had a heart attack or undergone cardiac surgery to spend far less time in the hospital. They can be monitored extensively at home where they are more comfortable and have a lower risk of infection.
These wearable devices have also proven to be great motivators for patients to take preventative measures seriously. Someone with high glucose levels can actively see their levels drop after periods of moderate activity, which encourages them to continue exercising. This same technology also allows users to track their health progress over time, which helps them understand their bodies and helps physicians tailor their treatments.
This brings us into another area where technology is improving the medical field – data analysis and collaborative research. A primary focus at Sheba Medical Center, and especially at our new ARC Innovation Center, is studying medical data in collaboration with health professionals across the globe. We’ve partnered with organizations like the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and universities across the world to combine the power of great minds and provide access to vast amounts of data that can be analyzed and interpreted for research purposes. This helps us better understand the challenges and best treatment practices. The sharing of this information will improve outcomes for millions of patients as new breakthroughs are developed.
Your doctor is going nowhere. Humans will always care for other humans. But technology is helping us do it faster and better – which means many more lives will be saved.
Robert Klempfner is the Director of the Israeli Center for Cardiovascular Research and Scientific Director of the ARC Innovation Center at Sheba Medical Center.