What is the future of medicine? The distinguished cardiologist and author, Dr Eric Topol, believes that the 20th century medical industry is about to be creatively destroyed by today’s digital economy. We are at the end of the era of doctor-knows-best, Topol told me when we Skyped earlier this month. The “ossified” and “sclerotic” medical establishment, Topol explained, is being replaced by an industry that will radically empower the consumer and patient. And at the heart of this new industry, he explained, is the digitalization of medical data which will enable doctors to know our “operating systems” from the beginning of our lives.
This revolution, Dr Topol, told me, changes everything. While it won’t enable us to live forever, it will enable us to live into our nineties without what he calls the “chronic diseases” of the industrial age. But it also will create new problems, such as safeguarding our personal data, which Topol believes, requires “intensive scrutiny”. Most of all though, he explained to me, today’s creative destruction of medicine offers both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs “limitless opportunities” to build a 21st century medical industry.
Eric Topol, M.D. is professor of genomics and holds the Scripps endowed chair in innovative medicine. He is the director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California. Previously, he led the Cleveland Clinic to its #1 ranking in heart care, started a new medical school, and led key discoveries in heart disease. He lives with his family in La Jolla, California.