How Real-Time Data Is Helping Physicians Track Their Patients, One Heartbeat at a Time

S.C. Stuart
S.C. Stuart is a foreign correspondent (ELLE China, Esquire Latin America), Contributing Writer at Ziff Davis PCMag, and consults as a futurist for Hollywood Studios. Previously, S.C. was the head of digital at Hearst Magazines International while serving as a Non-Executive Director, UK Trade & Investment (US) and Digital Advisor at The Smithsonian.
How Real-Time Data Is Helping Physicians Track Their Patients, One Heartbeat at a Time

Are you a human node on a health-based digital network?

According to research from Insider Intelligence, the U.S. smart wearable user market is poised to grow 25.5% in 2023. Which is to say, there are an increasing number of Angelenos walking around this city whose vital signs can be tracked day and night via their doctor's digital device. If you've signed up to a health-based portal via a workplace insurance scheme, or through a primary care provider's portal which utilizes Google Fit, you’re one of them.

Do you know your baseline health status and resting heartbeat? Can you track your pulse, and take your own blood pressure? Have you received genetic counseling based on the sequencing of your genome? Do you avoid dairy because it bloats, or because you know you possess the variant that indicates lactose intolerance?

Data Interventions That Save Lives

For many people in Los Angeles, body computing devices mean the difference between life and death. According to Leslie Saxon, M.D., Executive Director of the USC Center for Body Computing, a number of her patients have heartbeat monitors which she can track in real-time via her laptop.

“We use this on-going data stream in a number of ways,” explained Dr. Saxon. “For example, in my clinic today, I had a patient who had diagnosed their own arrhythmia via their Apple Watch. They experienced a symptom, their watch alerted them, they came in immediately, and we knew what it was from the data.”

Leslie Saxon

This is important, Dr. Saxon continued, “Because we spend a lot of time and money on episodic arrhythmia. If a patient is already engaged in their own care and diagnosis, and we have the evidence to hand, it leads to not only a deeper understanding, but better health outcomes.”

One of her other patients, a young man with congenital heart disease, had a shock over the holidays. “He alerted me and I was able to sign into a website and access the crucial diagnostic data from his medically-regulated device and address his situation in an instant.”

Both on-going self-monitoring, and tracking reported data over time, is also changing the nature of medicine itself. “Everyone is talking about precision medicine today,” Dr. Saxon pointed out, citing the move towards targeting the right treatments, to the right patients, at the right time. “But it’s more than that. With these devices, we’re able to liberate ourselves from brick and mortar care centers, and use integrated health systems, like our Virtual Care Clinic, to push diseases out even further.”

The Potential of Self-Monitoring

For example, the Swiss-American photographer Jonathan Ducrest uses data as an everyday wellness tool. He’s signed up to self-monitor via devices, sharing data with his doctors, but is focused on using it to improve daily living. While based back in Zurich, for now, he’s still able to continue US-style health tracking via Forward, the subscription-based medical platform in Century City, which is useful when he returns to L.A. on assignment.

“I was intrigued by the whole data-driven process when living in L.A.,” he told dot.LA. “After getting the initial body scan, and tests, which delivered a baseline health analysis, I continue to use a combination of wearables like my Apple Watch and other devices to keep an eye on my vitals, including a connected scale and thermometer from Withings. I chose to set permissions and share all this data with my clinical providers, so we can review at my next physical. But I have it whenever I want to check it myself.”

Jonathan Ducrest

The Purpose Behind Tracking

But, eight years on from the launch of the Apple Watch, has data fatigue set in for many? Have we reached peak monitoring?

“Wearables, monitoring and data alone are not going to save your life or replace a physician or surgeon,” Aoun told dot.LA. “Right now, devices enable people to capture data and information about the state of their health, but what is happening with all of this data? Where is it going? Is it being used in your doctor's office? Without a platform to ingest your data and translate it into actionable insights, wearables are mere data collection devices that have no real impact on your health.”

At his membership-based healthcare startup, Aoun decided to build out a full-stack solution combining software, hardware, data infrastructure, and doctors all under one roof - working towards rebuilding healthcare from the ground up.

“We help people understand what their data means and provide actionable insights to proactively manage their long-term health,” Aoun said. “The result is continual everyday care, in real-time, that extends beyond the exam room and can scale to millions of people.”

Offsetting Decline with Data

One thing is certain, life ends. But could data transform how we spend our lives - and how well it ends?

That’s what Pinchas Cohen, M.D. Dean of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology is looking into now. School initiatives examine the increasing role technology can and will play in aging research and services. Dr. Cohen told dot.LA that his field has been greatly impacted by the interplay of wearables, data, physicians and patients.

“Technological innovation impacts every area of gerontology research,” confirmed Dr. Cohen. “We are on the cusp of exciting new fronts in developing genomic-based personalized interventions that can extend health spans, the number of years we spend in good health. The ability to capitalize on large datasets allows us to begin to predict who might be at risk for certain conditions and target treatment and prevention efforts accordingly.”

Gerontology researchers use a wide range of wearables and sensors to collect data on sleep, movement and heart health and other measures.

“These tools can help physicians monitor disease, detect changes and develop interventions,” said Dr. Cohen. “For example, studies are looking at whether these tools could help physicians detect cognitive changes earlier versus relying on physical exams alone. Aging involves a set of multifaceted processes and remote monitoring and other data-driven interventions have the potential to extend the amount of time we spend in good health.”

The Future of Data Driven Healthcare

At least two generations have now grown up with tracking personal data from digital devices, whether as part of the quantified health movement, with a nod to if not immortality then increased longevity. According to the most recent census, "Americans are projected to have longer life expectancies in coming decades. By 2060, life expectancy for the total population is projected to increase by about six years, from 79.7 in 2017 to 85.6 in 2060."

As we enter a new era of medicine, data has led us not just to precision and personalized health, as in how that new medication works on your symptoms today, not based on large-scale historic Big Pharma trials, but also to a vast increase in personal responsibility.

You’ve got the data coming out of your wearables, what are you going to do with it?

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‘Expand Past the Stage’: How These LA-based Ticketing Platforms are Using The Metaverse to Take On Ticketmaster
Evan Xie

When Taylor Swift announced her ‘Eras’ tour back in November, all hell broke loose.

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated Swifties — many of whom were verified for the presale — were disappointed when Ticketmaster failed to secure them tickets, or even allow them to peruse ticketing options.

But the Taylor Swift fiasco is just one of the latest in a long line of complaints against the ticketing behemoth. Ticketmaster has dominated the event and concert space since its merger with Live Nation in 2010 with very few challengers — until now.

Adam Jones, founder and CEO of Token, a fan-first commerce platform for events, said he has the platform and the tech ready to take it on. With Token, Jones is creating a system where there are no queues. In other words, fans know immediately which events are sold out and where.

“We come in very fortunate to have a modern, scalable tech stack that's not going to have all these outages or things being down,” Jones said. “That's step one. The other thing is we’re being aggressively transparent about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So with the Taylor Swift thing…you would know in real time if you actually have a chance of getting the tickets.”

Here’s how it works: Users register for Token’s app and then purchase tickets to either an in-person event, or an event in the metaverse through Animal Concerts. The purchased ticket automatically shows up in the form of a mintable NFT, which can then be used toward merchandise purchases, other ticketed events or, Adams’s hope for the future — external rewards like airline travel. The more active a user is on the site, the more valuable their NFT becomes.

Ticketmaster has dominated the music industry for so long because of its association with big name artists. To compete, Token is working on gaining access to their own slew of popular artists. They recently entered into a partnership with Animal Concerts, a live and non-live event experiences platform that houses artists like Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Robin Thicke.

“You'll see they do all the metaverse side of the house,” Jones said. “And we're going to be the [real-life] web3 sides of the house.”

In addition, Token prides itself on working with the artists selling on their platform to set up the best system for their fanbase, devoid of hefty prices and additional fees — something Ticketmaster users have often complained about. Jones believes where Ticketmaster fails, Token thrives. The app incentivizes users to share more data about their interests, venues and artists by operating on a kind of points system in the form of mintable NFTs.

“We can actually take the dataset and say there’s 100 million people in the globe that love Taylor Swift, so imagine she’s going on tour and we ask [the user], ‘Would you go to see her in Detroit?’ And imagine this place has 30,000 seats, but 100,000 people clicked ‘yes,’” he explained. “So you can actually inform the user before anything even happens, right? About what their options are and where to get it.”

Tixr, a Santa-Monica based ticketing app, was founded on the idea that modern ticketing platforms were “living in the legacy of the past.” They plan to attract users by offering them exclusive access to ticketed events that aren’t in Ticketmaster’s registry.

“It melts commerce that's beyond ticketing…to allow fans to experience and purchase things that don't necessarily have to do with tickets,” said Tixr CEO and Founder Robert Davari. “So merchandise, and experiences, and hospitality and stuff like that are all elegantly melded into this one, content driven interface.”

Tixr sells tickets to exclusive concerts like a Tyga performance at a night club in Arizona, general in-person festivals like ComplexCon, and partners with local vendors like The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to sell tickets to the races. Plus, Davari said it’s equipped to handle high-demand, so customers aren’t spending hours waiting in digital queues.

Like Token, Tixr has also found success with a rewards program — in the form of fan marketing.

“There's nothing more powerful in the core of any event, brand, any live entertainment, [than] the community behind it,” Davari said. “So we build technology to empower those fans and to reward them for bringing their friends and spreading the word.”

Basically, if a user gets a friend to purchase tickets to an event, then the original user gets rewarded in the form of discounts or upgrades.

Coupled with their platforms’ ability to handle high-demand events, both Jones and Davari believe their platforms have what it takes to take on Ticketmaster. Expansion into the metaverse, they think, will also help even the playing field.

“So imagine you can't go to Taylor Swift,” Jones said. “What if you could purchase an exclusive to actually go to that exact same show over the metaverse? An artist’s whole world can expand past the stage itself.”

With the way ticketing for events works now, obviously not everyone always gets the exact price, venue or date they want. There are “winners and losers.” Jones’s hope is that by expanding beyond in-person events, there can be more winners.

“If there’s 100,000 people who want to go to one show and there's 37,000 seats, 70,000 are out,” he said. “You can't fight that. But what we can do is start to give them other opportunities to do things in a different way and actually still participate.”

Jones and Davari both teased that their platforms have some exciting developments in the works, but for now both Token and Tixr are set on making their own space within the industry.

“We simply want to advance this industry and make it more efficient and more pleasurable for fans to buy,” Davari said. “That's it.”