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Viewpoint | Scientific Discovery and the Future of Medicine

Digital Medical Tools and Sensors

Eric J. Topol, MD1,2,3; Steven R. Steinhubl, MD1,2; Ali Torkamani, PhD1,2,3
[+] Author Affiliations
1The Scripps Translational Science Institute, La Jolla, California
2Scripps Health, La Jolla, California
3The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
JAMA. 2015;313(4):353-354. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17125.
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In this Viewpoint, Eric Topol and colleagues discuss the effect that mobile devices as biomedical sensors could have on health care.

Until now, most of the effect of the digital era in the practice of medicine has been confined to electronic health records. But that is about to undergo a radical transformation in the next 5 years.

Moore’s law, the prediction in 1965 that there would be a doubling of transistors in a chip every 2 years, has relentlessly marched on. Now, in parallel, there is a doubling every 5 years of the number of mobile devices connected via the Internet, leading to approximately 50 billion in 20201 (Table). This leads to the projection that in the next 5 years there will be almost 7 connected devices per individual. Part of the exponential growth of the Internet of Things (advanced interconnectivity between systems and services) comprises sensors, which are increasingly being embedded into smartphones and wearable devices. That it is now possible to pack 19 million transistors into 16 nm explains how there are more than 2 billion transistors in some current smartphone models. It is not just about the hypercompression of transistors into integrated circuits; it is the remarkable decline in cost. That combination has led to smartphones that cost $35 with all the essential capabilities of the ones that are priced at more than $500 and to the projection that more than 90% of all individuals in the world older than 6 years will have a mobile phone device by 2020.2

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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