Digital health tools can create the '21st-century bionic human,' Mayo Clinic Platform leader says

Smartwatches that track blood pressure and heart rate. Wearable fitness devices that measure physical activity. Portable meters that monitor blood glucose levels and cardiac health.

The data from all these digital tools can create the "21st-century bionic human," who will have the "ability to accurately predict his or her health status and risk of disease," John Halamka, MD, president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, wrote in a July 1 blog post with Paul Cerrato, senior research analyst and communications specialist.

Medicine can already rebuild damaged body parts, Dr. Halamka wrote, so now it looks to tech-enabled gizmos and applications that will quantify people's physiological and biochemical indicators to anticipate — and prevent — future disease. "These 'enhancements,' combined with genomic sequencing, have the potential to reinvent the way medicine is practiced," he wrote.

At Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, patients who used an app to track their weight and blood pressure had improved cardiovascular risk factors and were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital 90 days after discharge compared to patients who didn't have access to the app, Dr. Halamka wrote. Another example he cited is Michael Snyder, PhD, a professor of genetics at Stanford (Calif.) Medicine, who used various technologies to collect data on a person's genome, proteome, microbiome and transcriptome to create "integrated personal omics profiles" — in himself and others — to predict the onset of diseases and prescribe interventions to stave them off.

This "comprehensive approach can serve as a starting point for a more holistic, precise approach to healthcare," Dr. Halamka wrote. "It may not turn us all into super men and women, but it will likely translate into better patient care."

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