NEW YORK—In a presentation titled “AI, ChatGPT and ‘Metaversal’ Madness,” John Whyte, MD, chief medical officer for WebMD, explained how artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality are adding new dimensions to the patient experience. Dr. Whyte believes that health happens when you leave the doctor’s office because today’s patients are using wearables, whether it be smart watches or smart jewelry, to track their health.

Dr. Whyte believes that health happens when you leave the doctor’s office because today’s patients are using wearables to track their health.

Whyte said, some 40 percent of people use wearables to track things like their activity, A1C and heart rates. But there’s a new trend in something called “nearables” which can track and collect bio-med data through the use of a special light bulb.

He said, “It collects your biometric data, whether it’s on or off, it detects your heart rate, your blood pressure, your sleep patterns if you have it in your bedroom. It can even detect a fall.” Dr. Whyte believes collecting the biometric data is not the problem and the technology is only going to get more refined as time goes on.

“So we’re doing all these things at home and collecting our own data, and that fundamentally, is changing everything across health care. It’s all about bringing care to the patient. Why should I have to go to the doctor’s office, go to the lab, go to the hospital, if I can do things at home?

“We have this enormous amount of unstructured data, our smart jewelry and other wearables are collecting all this information. Our lightbulbs are soon going to be collecting information. What are we doing with all this data?”

In Dr. Whyte’s opinion, we don’t need more data. “What we need is to structure the data that we’re already collecting, and no one’s really doing that. And that’s the opportunity that we’re missing.”

Dr. Whyte believes there are a lot of factors that are preventing us from structuring the data. For example, there’s issues of whether health insurance will cover it. “I still see patients and I wish every patient with pre-diabetes could have access to a continuous glucose monitor to collect data on their blood sugar continuously over time and give them feedback on it.

“But guess what, most insurance companies do not cover it for pre-diabetes. Most insurance companies don’t cover it for type 2 diabetes, unless you’re already on insulin. So we’re missing opportunities.”

Dr. Whyte believes we really need to think about how we use AI to meet the standards of care and that’s where we need to shift our discussion, but how do we meet standards of care for different health conditions?

“That’s where I think the future is going as we think about the role of AI and as we think about value to the health care system. And that’s where I really encourage people to get much more involved as it relates to how this is being managed when it comes to issues of licensure and issues of reimbursement, and issues of regulation. That’s how we’re going to get to the next step,” he concluded.