At what point will having 'a doctor in your pocket' become a reality? According to both Google and Apple the answer would appear to be 'pretty soon', afterall, healthcare is one of the last sectors to be affected by the information and technological revolution. Why is this? The main factor has been that there is a widely held belief that healthcare and medicine should be personal.
However, hospitals including the Royal Free Hospital in London and the Mayo Clinic in the US evidently feel that mHealth is the future. The new devices that you can wear including the Apple Watch and the Smart Bandage means that there is communication with your smartphone, which passes that information along to your doctor is now available,
The Smart Bandage is now in use and early reports show that liver patients are already specifically benefiting. Furthermore, the technology has been able to idejntify the importance of being able to measure heart rate variability (HRV) as a new diagnostic test and early warning indicator for liver failure.
Forbes magazine recently indicated trends that put the wearables market close to $12 Billion by 2018 to which 60% is associated with health tracking.
Hal my Health Partner
Apparently we check our smartphones over 150 times a day, and so this is potentially a powerful channel of communication for both medical practitioners and for marketers. The idea is that you will be linked to your electronic patient record in 'real time' along with previous medical records including pathology reports and imaging, your daily activities and life system parameters e.g. blood pressure and heart rate will be checked continuously and any problems will appear as a warning light on your dashboard. Or possibly additional proactive warnings, especially if facilitated by Google lenses such as, "Dave, if you eat all that pasta dish you will exceed your recommended calorie intake and raise lipid levels to amber. You can eat it Dave, but you will then need one extra hour on the exercise bike. Dave it's your call".
My own Motivational Health Coach
Is this good? Will this technology improve our quality of life? There is probably no short answer to these questions. However, at a very obvious level maybe the dependability of the advice and immediacy of the information will be precisely what we need to quit smoking, eat healthy diets, take regular exercise and adhere to our medicines.
In addition to continous health monitoring pundits are forecasting that there will be a health App for every condition from pregnancy to coronary artery disease. There are clear reasons why this sort of approach could work because if a diabetic patient, for example, can be motivated to adjust lifestyle sufficiently to have a significant impact on Hba1C levels, the health implication could be greater than the affect of any drug. In other words we may be prescribed an App instead of the drugs, or provided with an option with associated quotes and likely outcomes.
It may even become mandatory. Whatever your view it does look as though 2015 is going to be the year that Health Hal becomes our intimate friend.