Poll: 2015 Trends in Medicine

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Medicine and technology will continue to integrate creating the biggest trends in medicine in 2015 according to a poll of physicians from SERMO.  The top three trends to look for are:

  • Remote patient monitoring through wearable apps
  • Telemedicine expanding with compensation to physicians
  • More genetic discoveries to improve patient diagnoses and care

Remote patient monitoring via Apps

Cardiologists are familiar with the strap on heart rate monitors that then must be sent to a lab for analysis.  What if you could skip that step and monitor a patient in real-time, at the click of a button?  From a contact lens that monitors a diabetic’s insulin levels, to a smart phone app that detects behavioral changes when the flu is coming on, there are many areas of research with promising early results.  In the video below, Dr. Sandy Pentland from MIT’s Media Lab talks about how veterans with mental health issues can be tracked when medications are adjusted to see if they are working.

Caveat:  Physicians need solid research proving the devices and apps are as effective as current monitoring systems or improve on diagnostic tools already in place.  Without those standards in place, they will be at a greater risk for malpractice suits.

Telemedicine expands

Instead of coming in regularly to check on insulin levels, what if a diabetic could handle it all remotely with a quick phone or video call with their doctor?  Or what if a specialist hundreds of miles away could review records electronically and offer a consult without putting the patient through unnecessary stress or travel?

Telemedicine has been around for decades but with a boost from technology it’s got new legs.  Physicians can easily share patient files with anyone, anywhere.  While some patients absolutely need to see a doctor in an exam room, there are many instances where a video call can be just as effective.  This has particular value with monitoring patients with long-term, but manageable disease and in rural parts of the country where access to specialists may be limited.

Caveat:  Currently most private insurers and government reimbursement programs do not cover telemedicine.  Many physicians who consult electronically can not get reimbursed for their time.  We need to look at laws and guidelines that will open up this treatment option.

Genetic discoveries continue

2014 saw several genetic discoveries, perhaps one of the most important being a genome sequence for under $1,000 when just a few short years ago it cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Acting in the opposite direction, the FDA’s squelching of genetic information to laypeople via companies like 23 and Me dampens database growth and big data research, while perhaps protecting potential patients from false or missed diagnoses.

The video below from genetic researcher John Quackenbush, Ph.D., professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Publish Health discusses the intersection between genomics and how physicians can use it with their patients.

Caveat:  We’re still in the early days of genomics research, physicians need to watch the research closely for where it can best help their specialties and their patients, particularly with rare disease diagnosis.

Complete Poll Results

We asked our physicians to predict the Top Three Trends in Medicine for 2015 (choose three).  We’ve already discussed the top three vote getters.  Below are the full results:

  • 42% patient monitoring using wearable apps
  • 41% telemedicine taking a foothold and becoming compensated
  • 39% more genetic discoveries
  • 36% an Ebola vaccine
  • 29% new diabetes medications coming to market
  • 28% interoperable EHR systems
  • 20% breakthroughs in cancer treatment
  • 16% a migration to DPC models of payment
  • 13% improvement in the efficacy of the influenza vaccine

As a physician, what trends do you think will uptick in 2015?  From the list above what do you consider the Top 3?  If you’re an MD or DO please join us inside the Sermo physician community for further discussion of the latest research and medical techniques.


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