Dr. Mike Evans takes on health innovation role with Apple
September 21, 2016
TORONTO – Since Dr. Mike Evans (pictured), a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, launched his YouTube Med School for the Public in 2011, it has acquired more than 70,000 subscribers and 14 million views. Now, his potential audience is set to explode as he takes on a new role with Apple’s health division in California, with its one-billion iPhones sold worldwide.
“I’m very excited for Dr. Mike that he will be able to use his multiple talents to impact an even bigger worldwide audience,” said Dr. Arthur S. Slutsky, vice-president of research at St. Michael’s Hospital. “I’m looking forward to seeing his new innovations and having St. Mike’s collaborate with him in his new role.”
“Dr. Mike” isn’t allowed to say much about his new role, other than that he will be working on healthcare innovation worldwide.
He gives the hypothetical example of a patient with high blood pressure who he might see about four times a year. About a quarter of the time the blood pressure reading is wrong, either because the doctor’s measurement was off or the patient was nervous or had just consumed a large caffeine-fueled latte.
In the future, Dr. Evans said, he might prescribe an app that would monitor the patient’s blood pressure remotely with a watch or some other wearable. If the blood pressure improved over time, an alert might go the clinic’s pharmacist, who could reduce the patient’s medication.
Patients could compare how they are doing with others anonymously, or with people they know.
The potential for innovation is astonishing. For example, a Bluetooth monitor on a patient’s pill bottle cap could be outfitted to detect whether medications have been taken; if not, the system could remind the patient to take the meds.
The phone and watch could nudge the patient toward a low salt “DASH” diet or to be more active. Finally, one of Dr. Mike’s famous whiteboards would launch from the app that would give them a 101 on high blood pressure.
“We see people a few days a year, the phone and the watch see them every day,” he said. “There is so much opportunity here in data visualization, feedback, education, messaging and nudging positive behaviours.”
Apple has already dipped its toe into the healthcare technology world. Its HealthKit software allows iPhones to interact with multiple different health and fitness apps.
CareKit is a framework that developers can use to create apps to help people manage their medical conditions and track and share data with doctors.
And ResearchKit is an open source framework for building apps that makes it easier to enroll participants in research trials and to conduct research studies.
“So, for example, if we just started you on a Parkinson’s therapy I could ask you about common side-effects on your watch, we could track if your movement has improved, you could hold up the phone and we could measure your tremor, and so on. … all remotely,” said Dr. Evans.
“I think the future is a combination of ‘old school’ – my relationship with the patient and understanding them – and ‘new school,’ a type of digital public health that helps millions of people in very small ways.
Hopefully I can keep doing both in the clinic at Stanford University School of Medicine and at Apple. It’s amazing that St. Mike’s and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute have created an ecosystem that mixes innovation, research, creativity, etc., that is preparing people like me to be part of this future.”
About St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future healthcare professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.