As the digital revolution changes the landscape of healthcare, the results are bound to have an impact on laboratory medicine and the rest of the healthcare industry. Eric J. Topol, MD, recipient of this year’s Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award and author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, will address this issue during the opening plenary session​ at AACC's Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago this July.

The Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award, supported by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, is AACC's highest honor, recognizing an outstanding individual who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to laboratory medicine or patient care and significantly advanced education, practice, or research. Topol will speak at 5 p.m. on July 27 at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

The session will explore how evaluation tools that link to iPhone and Android devices are increasingly being used by healthcare providers to get real-time assessment of conditions such as patient cardiovascular, metabolic, and hemostatic functions. Laboratories have taken advantage of these technologies as well. “Almost any routine lab test along with pathogens such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV can be done via a smartphone with microfluidic or colorimetric attachments,” says Topol, who is director of Scripps Translational Science Institute and chief academic officer of Scripps Health in La Jolla, California.

Patients have also been accessing healthcare information on the Internet. Consumer use of online health social networks is steadily increasing. People are also starting to download medical apps, and such features are gaining in popularity. Phone hardware “adds” can assess medical metrics such as blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rhythm, and eye refraction.

The past year has also witnessed significant advances in technology. It’s now possible to sequence an entire genome in a few hours using a handheld device and access the capabilities of a supercomputer through the cloud. While such feats have yet to impact routine clinical practice, signs point to movement within the field. Cancer patients are more frequently asking for their tumor sample to be sequenced for targeted therapy.

Topol says the key takeaway of his presentation is that “we have new tools to digitize each unique human being, and this will transform the future of medicine.”