The Coming Medical Revolution: Drones and Telemedicine?

Google Glass and Amazon.com drones may be the tools driving the next revolution in medicine.

Feb 8, 2014 at 11:35AM

Pristine -- a small start-up based in Austin, Texas -- is showing off the real power and potential of Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Glass. The company has developed two apps so far for Glass that take advantage of the power of hands-free communication in medical settings.

Kyle Samani is Pristine's passionate CEO. He's studying the medical landscape constantly and has some big ideas about changing the face of medicine. For instance, what if we could cut health care costs by 67%?

For Kyle, the road to that kind of vast improvement starts with an increasing reliance on telemedicine -- in all its many forms. Layer on top of that the exciting drone technology popularized by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and you have an idea of Kyle's vision.

In the video below, you'll see why the future of medicine may involve a virtual consult with your physician via a Skype-like or Google Glass connection, followed an hour later by an Amazon drone delivery of your drugs or testing equipment.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Max Macaluso: Over the next 10 years, what do you think the biggest revolution in medicine will be?

Kyle Samani: I've actually been writing a lot of blog posts addressing this. If I had to pick one, I'm not going to pick a technology I'm going to pick a provider tool, and that's going to be telemedicine.

If you look at what percentage of the time the average person spends on a day-to-day basis taking care of themselves -- actively investing in their own health care -- I would call that probably about 5%, which I think sounds pretty reasonable to most people. If you're awake for 16 hours, that means you're spending about 30 minutes of that day -- toothbrush, basic medications, pills, whatever -- just basic health care stuff, personal caring.

Let's look at the percent of GDP. The percentage of U.S. GDP that is comprised of health care costs is about 17%. In my ideal world I'd say, "Well, if you spend 5% of your time taking care of yourself, that's a discrepancy." Idealistically, it should be solved.

Let's just say, what would it take to get GDP as a percentage of health care from 17% down to 5%? That's a super-aggressive, super-ambitious goal; cutting health care costs by net 67%. I think the only way that that's feasible is if telemedicine becomes the standard, as opposed to the exception.

I think most medical care delivery in this country in the future will be delivered virtually; obviously Skype-like phone visits. American Well and Teladoc and Ring-A-Doc and those guys are right now pushing the envelope on that -- HealthSpot -- there's a lot of other interesting plays going on in that environment.

Then I think the most interesting aspect of all that is, how do you get diagnostic tools to the patient? You need to get the blood pressure reader, you need to get a glucose meter, you need to get a thermoscope, an ophthalmoscope, or whatever, to the patient.

I think, actually, drones -- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) flying drones -- are the solution to that problem. I can totally see a future where you're like, "I have a headache," or whatever. You hop on a five-minute consult with some nurse, and the purpose is to determine what other physical stuff do you need.

Within a few hours, it arrives to your home, and that night you can run the tests and then hop on with a nurse again in the evening, so I think you'll have frequent visits, that it will simply be helping you get the things coordinated between the right places.

Max Macaluso, Ph.D., has no position in any stocks mentioned. Rex Moore owns shares of Google. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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