Many times I wrote about the wearable gadgets that help me live a healthy life. I know there is a wearable revolution going on but some of the recent announcements make me think whether the list and range of such gadgets ever get rationale. A few examples from the past days:
Smart socks as fitness activity trackers
Smart water bottle to alert you to keep yourself hydrated: “The Hug solution includes a sensor band that wraps around just about any water bottle to track your H2O consumption, and an accompanying mobile app that reminds you to drink when your hydration levels are low.”
Smart ring controlling devices
Smart golf gloves and many more.
The next ones would be smart ear rings and smart nail clippers? Hopefully not.
I cannot wait to reach the point when we get over this phase of hype and start focusing on meaningful developments.
We are facing major changes as medicine and healthcare now produce more developments than in any other era. Key announcements in technology happen several times a year, showcasing gadgets that can revolutionize our lives and our work. Only five or six years ago it would have been hard to imagine today’s ever increasing billions of social media users; smartphone and tablet medical applications; the augmented world visible through Google Glass; IBM’s supercomputer Watson used in medical decision making; exoskeletons that allow paralyzed people to walk again; or printing out medical equipment and biomaterials in three dimensions.
It would have sounded like science fiction. Sooner or later such announcements will go from multiple times a year to several times a month, making it hard to stay informed about the most recent developments. This is the challenge facing all of us.
Based on my white paper and CNN article, I decided to demonstrate where the world of medicine is heading in a a book which will come out late August. The Guide to the Future of Medicine will feature 22 trends and technologies that will shape the future.
My mission with the book is to prove that the relation between the human touch in medicine and using disruptive innovations is mutual. By losing the quintessence of practicing medicine, the real-life doctor-patient relationship, we would lose everything. Although without implementing innovative technologies, it is becoming more and more complicated (if not impossible) to provide proper care.
Therefore this new world requires preparation and new skills must also be acquired. I wrote this book to fulfill this mission.
Here are some of the topics you will be able to read about soon everywhere online before the book comes out.
Health Sensors In and Outside The Body
Artificial Intelligence in Medical Decision Support
Hospitals of the Future
The 3D Printing Revolution
The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs
and many more!
Let’s prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine together! #medicalfuture
The new moonshot project from Google is to create a Google Maps of the human body including molecular and genomic information as well. The Personal Genome Project (PGP) had a similar mission years ago, but this one seems to be even bigger.
The 175 healthy people will go through an exam that includes the collection of body fluids like blood and saliva, after which Google X researchers will review what they have learnt and engage researchers at Duke University and Stanford University for a much larger study.
The eventual aim is for Baseline to act as a reference for the chemistry of a well-run, healthy body, and in turn, identify anomalies far earlier. The hope is that the medicine industry moves more towards prevention rather than treatment in response to illnesses.
A major difference is the institution or company standing behind both projects. The PGP was initiated by Harvard University’s Professor George M. Church, while this new project is launched by Google. I have to note though that Google plans to make the results available for “qualified researchers in health”; data collected will be anonymous and not be shared with insurance companies.
But Dan Munro at Re/code immediately shared his concerns about participating in such a study due to legal risks and the level of trust related to Google.
I’m sure Google wants my genetic data — preferably for free of, course — and will say anything in order to get it. Does that mean that it has earned my trust to use that data as part of an ambiguous, long-term experiment? Not with my genetic data. At least not yet. Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.
I just heard the news that the first fully digital (entirely paperless) hospital will open in Abu Dhabi in 2015. The clinic worked with experts from the famous Cleveland Clinic, the No. 4 ranked best hospital in the United States. This might be a good step towards changing the hospital experience not only for professionals working there but more importantly for patients to make it a place where they go to re-energize themselves.
“The fact that a unified medical record is going to exist will provide seamless communication, which means there is an opportunity for us to communicate back and forth with the main campus and elsewhere in the healthcare system, without having the patient have the responsibility of carrying paper,” Harrison was quoted in the article as saying.
The 13-storey LEED Gold-Certified facility in Al Maryah Island will have five Centers of Excellence: Heart & Vascular Institute, Digestive Disease Institute, Eye Institute, Neurological Institute, and Respiratory & Critical Care Institute, according to anEmirates 24/7article. It will have 364 beds, five clinical floors, three treatment and diagnostic levels, 26 operating rooms, and 13 floors of acute and critical care units.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University are working on new kind of car seats that could measure vital signs such as ECG of the driver to prevent accidents caused by drivers falling asleep.
The sensor system can be used to detect heart signals which indicate a driver is beginning to lose alertness, and trigger a warning to pull over. Should the driver choose to ignore the alerts, active cruise control or lane departure technology could be deployed to gently guide the vehicle. The information could also be sent over a wireless network to a control centre to take further action.
This shows the path for new wearable health trackers which would play an immense role in our lives seamlessly measuring key vital signs and actually saving our lives from time to time.
Without managing our health while being healthy it is impossible to significantly improve healthcare. I’ve already introduced the health trackers I have been using to stay healthy as an attempt of persuading people to do so.
Now Withings has come up with the report of a recent survey that had some worrying results.
Although 82% of Americans think tracking vital signs at home is important, one fifth of Americans do not track any vitals outside of the doctor’s office.
75% of people would be open to checking their vitals at home if they were a part of a program that would save them money on health insurance premiums
Oddly enough, although 59% of respondents monitor their temperature with a thermometer, only 12% could recall it as a vital sign, unprompted.
Over 80% of patients recall their doctors taking body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Only 29% remember blood oxygen level being measured at their last check-up.
Obviously, better wearable gadgets are needed which make the whole process comfortable, simple and smooth.
Do you track any health parameters? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
Update: Also, here is the infographic Withings has released (click on the image for the original one):
A few months ago I discussed the future features of smart contact lenses. Now using these to augment vision or track health parameters is not only a good idea any more, as Google launched a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop smart contact lenses that can track diabetes by measuring blood glucose levels in tears and fix farsightedness as well.
As part of the agreement, Google[x] and Novartis’ eye care division Alcon will create smart lenses that feature “non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics” and focus on two main areas. The first will provide a way for diabetic patients to keep on top of their glucose levels by measuring the sugar levels in their tear fluid, feeding the data back to a smartphone or tablet. The second solution aims to help restore the eye’s natural focus on near objects, restoring clear vision to those who are only farsighted (presbyopia).