On February 1, during our first mHealth Interest Group meeting of 2018, we enjoyed an invigorating and inspiring talk by Evan Muse - a physician-scientist based out of La Jolla, CA who has made significant contributions to digital medicine research through his work at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. Dr. Muse painted a promising and exciting picture of digital health research - both where we are and where we're going - by highlighting the dynamic intersection of medicine, research and technology in the age of smartphones, sensors, and the internet.
A key point emphasized throughout the talk was the quantity and novelty of data we are now able to produce, gather and analyze with modern wearable and computing devices. For instance, Dr. Muse described a project in West Africa wherein a small digital device was used to monitor Ebola patients, and to detect when patients were at high-risk of complications and needed immediate treatment. Thus, the immense amounts of data produced by one device were leveraged to improve researchers' understanding of the disease and to guide treatment interventions. In another example, a wrist-worn smartwatch was used to measure and monitor patients' blood pressure in the natural environment, providing unique insights into blood pressure variability beyond the doors of the medical clinic.
Further, Dr. Muse discussed his role in the All of Us Research Program - part of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which aims to redefine our approach to preventing and treating disease by focusing on individual differences in biology, environment and lifestyle. In the spirit of the PMI, Dr. Muse challenged the notion of traditional population-level epidemiological research, which focuses on broad poulation-averaged trends, and where study design and data are controlled by researchers and providers. Rather, we were encouraged to empower participants and patients, allowing them to be more involved with study design, to have control over and access to their data, and to be more engaged in the advancement of science and medical research.
We are extremely grateful to Dr. Muse for taking the time to talk to our group! We look forward to following his exciting work and hope to collaborate with him in the future in the digital health space!