‘Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician’ – The Future of Health & Medicine

In “The Deadly Years” episode of Star Trek, the landing party to Gamma Hydra 4 returns to find they are showing signs of accelerated aging.

They would be in luck if Dr. Daniel Kraft was aboard. Kraft, a physician, scientist, entrepreneur and F-16 Squadron Flight Surgeon, was instead aboard the good ship METal at this weeks Saturday breakfast, where he gave a 30 minute crash course on the future of health, medicine and technology.

Say aaahhhhh.

The depth and breadth of what’s going on might cause you to faint. But before that happens you could be notified to sit down and rest, judging by all the technology being developed, as Kraft so thoroughly explained in an awesome multimedia presentation.

Capt. Kirk in "The Deadly Years"

Among them is LifeGuard, a wearable vital-signs monitoring system, developed by the NASA Ames Astrobionics team. The CPOD is worn on the body with sensors to measure vital signs viewable on a computer screen and is being further developed at Stanford.

In a similar vein is i-shoe, which uses technology developed at NASA and MIT to diagnose poor balance when walking, thus reducing the risk of injury for senior citizens.

Other companies to watch include HeartFlow, which just received $14 million in funding. The company is in stealth mode but in a trademark filing said it is developing software for use in the treatment of vascular illnesses.

Among video clips by Kraft was a virtual colonoscopy. It starts with a CAT scan of the body, digitized to a computer display that shows a submariners view of your insides. Hold on Captain, I think I spotted a lesion!

Kraft mentioned futurist Ray Kurzweil, the co-founder of Singular University, which just launched “FutureMed.” The intent here is to understand how quantum computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanomaterials, and bio-everything will radically change healthcare.

Daniel Kraft

Kraft also said we’re approaching the era of the Tricorder, as the Peter Diamandis-led X Prize group has launched the “Tricorder X Prize” contest. The winner must develop a portable device able to diagnose a patient at less than $1 per “read.”

Another company to watch is Epocrates, which is putting the doctor inside a cell phone and other mobile devices. The company just launched its initial public offering.

A lot of medical stuff is getting digitized and there is a long way to go. But we are entering an era of virtual doctors and telemedicine. Only about 20% of people who see a doctor actually need in-person care. The remaining 80% could be handled electronically, off-site, said Kraft.

He also said a lot of health care service is moving to “the cloud.” An example of that is Microsoft’s HealthVault, sort of a one-stop-shop for all your health care needs online. Along this same line is Microsoft’s Almaga. Another one to check out is Philip’s DirectLife.

Another cool technology comes from FitBit. It sells a clip-on device that tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. Another is Zeo, “your personal sleep coach.”

OK, don’t go to sleep just yet. There are a few more neat things Kraft mentioned that need your attention. Just turn your head left, cough, and get ahold of this.

Feast your mind on BrainGate. Its goal is to create technology that will allow severely disabled individuals to communicate and control common every-day functions literally through thought.

Then there is Cybernics. It aims to create a new research field that centers on “cybernetics, mechatronics, and informatics,” mixed in with robotics. An example is Cybernics HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limbs). HAL enhances and strengthens the limb motion of human bodies.

As an aside here, I envision the “Cyber Olympics.” There are no rules in this sport. Take a human and add whatever technology you want and let the best ManBot win! I could see some humans exploding! Loser.

And while were at it, check out Berkeley Bionics.

Now, you must have a bionic brain to wade through all this radically insane stuff.

And this is not everything that Kraft covered at the METal breakfast, magnificently implanted by our fearless leader, Ken Rutkowski.

Thanks Daniel Kraft. You can find him on Twitter here.

METal Footnotes:

The other events at the breakfast I will have to cover at a later time. But there is one line worth sharing. During “The Quigley Report” by William Quigley, in a discussion about the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft, he said, “You can’t breed two skunks to make a mink.“

One more thing worth mentioning. METal man Douglas Fulton, who has a long track record of managing multi-channel domestic and international television businesses, was in Egypt in December (before the revolt). He was working with the U.S. State Department to assist Egypt with the launch of two TV channels. He showed me some text messages he received from people he worked with in Egypt. The messages have come in the last few days since Hosni Mubarak resigned.

One message read: “We’re freeeee. I am so proud to be an Egyptian.”

Thanks for reading. And cheers to METal.

>Brian Deagon

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3 Responses to ‘Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician’ – The Future of Health & Medicine

  1. Brian, now thats what I was waiting for. Its worth noting that Doc Kraft, also a sax player giggin in SF, is excited about his new startup, aptly named IntelligentMedicine. The revolution to personalized healthcare is moments away. Anyone such as TED speaker Kraft , will bring sometime wonderful to the investment community and eventually to ME…grin.

  2. And, NOW, I’ve got the links to all of the things that were so fascinating at the breakfast. You realize you’ll never be able to take a day off.

    A fascinating aspect of Kraft’s talk is how he wrapped the technology ideas around a series of concepts on how technology could make medicine faster, cheaper, better and a few others.

    One of the future technology concepts that intrigued me is how Augmented Reality can work, with scans and medical data (once that is aggregated from numerous sources) being superimposed on top of a remote surgery “booth.” This would enable doctors to operate from anywhere in the world and have access to amazing depths of information that could help monitor the patient and more accurately pinpoint surgical processes.

    Great work Brian. Now, take the rest of the day off.

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