The Future of Health, Inspired by Space

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It was actually the fourth process going into what kind of health care we said some part we're going to provide for astronauts that actually give us a window of opportunity to look at what we can put in that spacecraft needs to be in every doctor's office on this planet. I was initially asked to introduce tele-medicine as part of the healthcare deliveries program for deep space flight, but the fundamental reality when you think about it, it's going to be terrible.

If we're going to Mars when the astronaut lands on the planet Mars, and might complain about some chest pain, it's actually going to take about 18-21 minutes. For me at Johnson Space Center to actually hear that. Now, I'm a good physician so I'm going to radio back what kind of chest pain that actually by the time I figured out what the astronaut has, it will be too late in terms of the window of opportunity to treat them.

Out in space, we're not going to be able to bring the patient, the astronaut, into the doctor's exam room, that's ridiculous. Number two, even if we could use the Star Trek transporter to bring them back instantaneously, our examination of them would be useless because the process that is creating their problem in deep space is not the physiology of the doctor's office.

So, it immediately begun to make us think my goodness! The exam room really needs to be where the patient is, not where the doctor is and not simply because of convenience, not probably because of cost, but because perhaps the physiology of the patient in their home when work side is different from the physiology in the office.

The classic example being the patient with high blood pressure. It is estimated that approximately one third of patients in the United State who are diagnosed with hypertension and treated, actually don't have hypertension. They have what's called the white coat syndrome where they come into the doctor's office, they get upset and concerned about what the doctor is going to find, they have uprun levels go up, their blood vessels constrict, the blood pressure goes up.

In another sense, I can say, well I'm actually going back to what we did in the days when doctors made home care visits. And actually examined the patient where the patient live. Now, we're able to do that technologically. But, we have a greater understanding now of why that is necessary.

So, while there are these other critical factors in making it convenient, in being able to access the information more frequently, and to lower the cost of the care. We now recognize the entire care process is improving from a quality standpoint because we're getting the true physiological measures of the patient's condition.