February 06, 2015
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the wealthiest physician in the world, is relentlessly working to becoming one of the most innovative as well. Dr. Soon-Shiong works at University of California Los Angeles as a medical surgeon, but his most recent work involves revolutionizing the way cancer is approached, starting at the very definition. Cancer.gov sites a cancer as being a “disease in which abnormal cells divide without control” but Dr. Soon-Shiong believes there can be a different approach to the term. In an interview with 60 Minutes he proclaims, “A cancer is not what people think it is, cells growing. Cancer is actually the inability of the cells to die.” His new concept of the definition is the first of many steps he has taken to rethink cancers. Although this is innovative in its own right, Dr. Soon-Shiong believes he is on his way to something much more groundbreaking. He has recently developed a technology that can analyze a patient’s tumor biopsy and then proceed to report the specific gene mutated by the disease. All of this can be processed and accessed in the palm of the patient’s hand, through BlackBerry.
To most, Blackberry is now irrelevant in the world of mobile phones, dominated by Apple and Samsung. BlackBerry however will soon be very relevant in the field of healthcare if Dr. Soon-Shiong’s product finds any success. There was recently a report claiming a rumored purchase offer from Samsung, resulting in a significant increase in BlackBerry shares. This possible partnership could make waves in the ever-growing mobile-health market. It truly prompts the question what role can technology, specifically smartphones, play in the dissemination of health awareness and information.
We do not need to look far to see what mobile technology is already doing for health. FHI 360, a company located in our Research Triangle Park, has been using mobile technology in health, or “mHealth,” for a quite some time. They use smartphones to “share information on family planning, reproductive health, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.” The use of technology however is quickly progressing. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article mentioning several new methods in which smartphones and other forms of technology are being used to monitor health, and even collect and interpret medical data. Blood-pressure readings and electrocardiograms are already common procedures smartphones are capable of performing with a few accessory instruments, but we are not far from the day where all it takes is a watch to record our vital signs.
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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State