Eric Topol: Medical technology revolution needs validation to move forward

Thanks to advances in remote monitoring, hospital of the future will only provide intensive care, he says

This is the second in a two-part interview with cardiologist Eric Topol (pictured), a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and author of "The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care." Topol is slated to give the Tuesday, March 5 keynote address at HIMSS13 in New Orleans.

In part one of this exclusive interview, Topol talked about the importance of using digital tools, and gave his take on the progress of genome sequencing. Here, he discusses the future of hospitals, social media and accountability in healthcare.

FierceHealthIT: You've previously talked about how hospitals and office visits won't be as necessary in the future as they are today, a belief also shared by Intel Chief Healthcare Strategist Eric Dishman, who last year at HIMSS predicted that within 10 years, face-to-face visits will be the exception rather than the rule. Do you think such an assessment is ambitious, or can we get to that point in a decade?

Eric Topol: I think that the idea of attrition of the need for regular hospitals should start now. The only reasons to have hospitals in the near term, thanks to the advances of remote monitoring capabilities, will be intensive care units, which are not going to go away, and operating rooms, as well as pre- and post-operation recovery areas. But the remaining monitoring can be done at home, and will be far less expensive. Additionally, there won't be as high of a risk for infections.

Technically we have the capabilities now, but because of the problems that we have with entrenchment, it's going to take a little time before we accept that there's a new model in unplugged medicine. It's going to take longer than it should, and that's unfortunate. One of my favorite quotes is by George Orwell: "The hospital is the antechamber to the tomb." That still applies today, but people haven't accepted Orwell's characterization of the hospital.