FDA Approves Algorithm That Will Tell You When You're Going to Die
We're truly living in a wondrous time, closer than ever to the world of tomorrow that writers from the golden age of sci-fi envisioned. As the Internet of Things eventually turns every piece of our homes smart and artificial photosynthesis ramps up to solve world hunger, sometimes all you can do is marvel at how far we've come.
This week we add another wondrous piece of future tech to the world, as the FDA just approved the use of an algorithm that can predict death.
The Wave Clinical Platform, an algorithm developed by med-tech company ExcelMedical, monitors a patient's vitals in order to predict sudden death by heart attack or respiratory failure. By monitoring patients 24/7, the platform can sense subtle changes in vitals that generate a notification up to six hours before a lethal event occurs. It also compares vital signs to each other, which can help identify a potential issue that might not be apparent with just one stat. A spike in blood pressure with a drop in respiratory rate, for example, sends a much different signal than the spike in blood pressure itself.
Because the patient surveilance system is always on, the platform displays medical data in in real time. This information can also be viewed by medical staff remotely, even on mobile devices, which helps staff keep timely tabs on all their patients when forced to multitask.
Suffice to say, this is a tremendous help to a healthcare industry that remains dangerously understaffed and low on resources. "Health care, no matter where you live, is under pressure from all sides—cost and resources," ExcelMedical CSO Mary Baum told Digital Trends. "We do not have enough physicians or nurses, and we have an aging population who are sicker and who need more resources and services."
So far, tests of the platform have been incredibly successful. A group of elderly patients using the Wave system in clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center had six fewer unexpected deaths than a sample group that was not using the tech.
When it comes to the use of tech in medicine, it seems that the possibilities are endless. Last year, the FDA also approved the use of a robotic assistant that will assist in medical surgeries, and a robot doctor passed a medical licensing exam for the very first time. Before you go around thinking that you don't want its cold, unfeeling hands on your body, it's worth remembering that having a robot doctor is way better than having no doctor at all.