S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
I continue to be super impressed at how far we have come along in terms of technology playing a critical role in healthcare. A few days ago, one of my colleagues had to spend a day at the hospital for an endoscopy. The doctor inserted and attached a capsule, about the size of a gel cap, to the wall of his esophagus. This capsule measures pH levels in the esophagus and transmits readings via radio telemetry to a receiver worn on the patient’s belt. After the study, the data from the receiver is uploaded to a computer to aid in the diagnosis. The wireless receiver looked like an ordinary pager, no larger than a PDA. He was back at work the following day and no one could detect that he was carrying a special medical receiver or had a wireless transmitter implanted inside his body.
This just resonated with me again about how far technology has come along in providing healthcare. Two of the recent advances, notably the proliferation of connected devices and secure Web Services can significantly enhance how technology can be applied in healthcare. There are a lot of cool consumer scenarios that are enabled by connected devices. At the same time, I can also envision how connected devices can enable mission critical health care scenarios.
Here is the ultimate scenario that people have been dreaming for a long time. Wouldn’t it be cool in my colleague’s case above, if the patient’s data was wirelessly recorded from the capsule and wirelessly loaded via secure web services to the hospital’s database? Secure web services would allow the data to be transmitted instantaneously to any doctor in any part of the world. If the patient had to be rushed to the hospital for some reason, the receiver could automatically call 911 based on a data threshold. The patient’s thumbprint on a biometric sensor would alert the medics about allergic precautions and allow the medics to exercise life-saving precautions using real-time data. I know I am dreaming about the holy grail of healthcare technology – networked medical instrumentation and secure medical records updated, transmitted and accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device - but I feel very confident that technology advances is absolutely getting us to enable that scenario.
There are days when I feel excited and then there are days when I feel not so excited. Thinking about the kinds of impact that technology can have and how what we are doing here can play a part in that is absolutely exhilarating.