Inventing the Future

From TED talks to The Wall Street Journal to The Colbert Report, cardiologist Eric Topol is the ubiquitous spokesman for medicine's next wave, where unobtrusive gadgets work with smartphones and sophisticated analytics to continuously monitor patients' health, alerting patients and doctors long before a crisis hits. He became intrigued by the possibilities of technology in the early '90s, when he worked with a company that was developing an Internet-based heart monitor. "I realized this could be ginormous," he says. Upon moving to San Diego in 2006, Topol found himself at the epicenter of wireless medicine, with more than 150 area firms developing products in the field. One of his priorities now is to validate new technologies, and determine whether they're better, faster and cheaper than other options. "You can't start using this stuff until you prove, unequivocally, that it's measuring accurately," he says. A recent study showed that a simple sensor patch collected more cardiac data more easily and cheaply than standard Holter monitors used since 1949.

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