By Russ Ward (@russcward)
One of the great ongoing achievements of the human race is the ability to measure our world with ever-increasing precision. In centuries past, inventions such as compasses and minute hands helped cartographers and astronomers map out the edges of what we knew, and microscopes and x-rays helped us go in the opposite direction and learn more about what was within us.
Today, digital technology makes measurement precise to degrees that the learned men and women of the past would never have dreamed possible: satellite maps accurate to the centimeter and clocks accurate to one second every three billion years are accepted realities today.
Part of the amazing repercussions of these abilities are that they pass the abilities on from the professional to the everyday person. Its not just the military who can see incredibily detailed topography of faraway regions: I can do the same thing sitting barefoot in my living room.
Of course, these abilities translate brilliantly into healthcare, and the capabilities that healthcare professionals and patients now have. Our doctors, PAs and nurses can now see this information – but what I find particularly fascinating is that either we can too, or at least the technology theyre using is common to most consumers.
Heres one recent example thats blowing my mind.
Most all of us have broken a bone in our lives, and were all familiar with the movie cliche of the white-coated physician pacing concernedly in front of a wall with x-ray flims clipped to them and backlit, as they scrutinize the images to determine the cause of their patients malady.
But a couple of months ago, the FDA approved an app to help physicians view scans from anywhere, and do it so thoroughly as to provide a diagnosis. Its not a complex piece of machinery; not something that has to be installed in a professional facility. Its just simply a downloadable app from the iTunes App Store that can be used on an iPhone or iPad.
Using it, the physician can wirelessly receive images sent from CT, MRI and PT scans, view them, manipulate them, and use them to diagnose. Think about the implications for telemedicine, and the ability for expert physicians to offer second opinions with speed.
The ground has been broken. What are the rest of us waiting for?