We'll get there someday

Dr. Eric Topol Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute


A lot of people get upset about this term "creative destruction of medicine" because they think, oh, we're going to take it down and there's nothing wrong with it. But, actually, what we're talking about is just radical innovation.

The way it used to work, and still does unfortunately, is that there's this medical priesthood, and the medical priesthood basically has control of all the data, access to the data and all the information. And that's going to change because what's happening very quickly is, through sensors and through sequencing and other means, each individual is going to have access to their own data and information, and then it will set up a new partnership with physicians, whereby now it's about guidance and knowledge and experience.

I think it's the greatest thing that you could imagine for patients, because rather than the practice today, which is everything at the population level and all people treated the same, this is now a whole new day where we don't do mass screening, but we only screen people who are at risk. In fact, we reclassify all medical conditions because we can do that at a molecular level, at a central level. It's so much more precise and much more participatory.

This is an exciting opportunity to make things really individualized and really an elegant form of care.

Now the change that we're talking about is inevitable, and the question is: Are we going to support, or is it going to have to come from a consumer base that has more power in the era of social networking than ever before? So really, which is it going to be that really brings this to actual opportunity, to reality? We'll see over the years ahead how this comes about.

We will get there someday. I hope to be able to see it all.