Skip to main content

Health Booth 2050!

A retired chairman and professor of allied health sciences at Clark Atlanta University, Pushkar Kaul writes in The Scientist this week of France and Germany's efforts to move their citizens' medical records onto "a credit-card sized storage device" called an H-SMART card.

Within the next several years, such cards will "be developed to include [a patient's] comprehensive health history," and will likely over the next decade come to include "an individual's genetic information as well," he writes.

Seems like a plausible enough prediction. As the editorial continues, though, things take a turn toward the techno-utopian.

Not only will we carry our medical records on a credit card, he writes, but we'll also have ATM-style health kiosks where Kaul predicts that patients will pull up, insert their card along with their finger "for a quick blood draw," get readings on various blood biomarkers along with a diagnosis and, potentially even, "medication via an automated pharmacy in the booth."

Given how challenging it currently is to reproducibly measure analytes like proteins even in the confines of a clinical laboratory, it's a bit hard to imagine we'll being doing it at an ATM kiosk anytime soon.

Then again, as Kaul notes, he first pitched the idea in 1975, calling it "Health Booth 2020." Medicine has certainly since moved toward this vision, so maybe he's onto something. The name probably needs an update, though — Health Booth 2050, perhaps?

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.