Monday, March 17, 2014

Health by the digits


Digits used to be fingers--now it means bits and bytes. I saw a TV spot where a forward-leaning doc took out his own cellphone and pressed it to a guy's chest.

Whoa whoa--wait a hot one! I am not sure I am ready for this. But Justine Brown, in the March GovTech Magazine, says our health is being reduced to ones and zeros.

First, the emphasis is on prevention of conditions and management of chronic conditions. Instead of doctor visits, patients can use portable devices to monitor their vital signs and take tests at home. You can continuously monitor heartbeats, BP, temp, oxygen, brain waves and other metrics.

Docs can also tell if you are taking the prescribed meds. This involves electronic pill bottles. Some systems even offer a chance for cash rewards for compliance.

After a stroke, an ankle monitor call tell the doctor how much you are moving around.

At the San Mateo Medical Center in CA, Molly the avatar helps patients in physical therapy--asking them about their pain levels.

The Univ of Utah rigged up a house for older people which tells if the person has fallen to the floor. (I wrote about one at Georgia Tech with many sensors.)

A Smarthaler tells whether asthmatics are using their meds correctly.

At Northern AZ University (in conjunction with Mayo), there is a concussion robot to assess athletes who take hits (a doctor assesses, but the bot is on the field).

I don't know where all this is headed--but I know humans will be the last resort eventually.

Actually, I hate suiting up and trying to get a ride to the doctor. If they stay off my lawn, they can do it remotely.

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