The man that sold his big data company to HP for £7.4 billion questions the role of wearables in healthcare

Mike lynch dark traceMatt LLoyd/Rex FeaturesAutonomy founder Mike Lynch.

Health data collected by wearable devices is a “big distraction” to doctors and clinicians, according to big data billionaire Mike Lynch, who says he has been working with the UK government on the issue of wearable health.

Lynch, the scientific entrepreneur behind Autonomy, a big data company that was sold to HP for £7.4 billion in 2011, questioned what GPs are supposed to do when patients present them with data they have collected on their own wearable devices.

Devices like the Apple Watch and the Fitbit can now track a person’s heart rate and sleeping patterns while more niche wearables can monitor vital organ signs and perspiration levels.

“What the hell is a GP supposed to do [with that data]?” said Lynch at the offices of his investment company, Invoke Capital, on Tuesday. Wearable devices will often give false alarms and the infrastructure isn’t there for healthcare professionals to deal with the data they produce, Lynch added.

Clinicians are being presented with increasing amounts of data, said Lynch, adding that the problem is “only going to get worse with this consumer empowerment.”

“It’s not coming from the medical world,” Lynch continued. “It’s Silicon Valley VC money going into this kind of crazy over-instrumentation. How does the health service cope with this? It’s an incredible distraction and cost and at the moment it’s highly questionable whether there’s a clinical outcome.”

Although Lynch is sceptical about using wearable data in healthcare, he is in favour of improving the way in which healthcare professionals utilise data in general.

As a result, he’s invested $13.75 million in a healthcare startup called Sophia Genetics, which has built a platform that analyses gnomic data to help clinicians diagnose and treat diseases like cancer.

Sophia Genetics, founded in 2011, is currently being used across 160 hospitals in 24 countries.

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