Online Personal Health Profile

Wearable_Technology
I’ve been a long-time advocate of wireless monitoring for long term management of health and recently I have begun to imagine what the future landscape should look like in a world where wireless monitoring is commonplace. With that said, I don’t need to imagine a whole lot as the majority of the pieces are becoming commonplace in todays world. What are these pieces and have I left anything out of my ideal ecosystem?

Wearable Technology

Recent media content in the wearable technology sector has gravitated towards headware or wrist-worn technologies. Personally I can't see the outcome of Google's Glass project but I do see merit in wrist-worn technologies such as the Pebble, Samsung's Galaxy Gear, or Nike+ range, even "smart" clothing and make-up. All of these have wide applications for sport science, personal fitness,communication, and entertainment, but a significant share of future developments will provide advancements for personal health such as continuous glucose monitoring, ECG monitoring or further improvements in drug delivery devices by wireless connection and integrating with smartphone technology. I've listed some sample technologies that I've come across over the past while below;

With all this said, wearable technology is certainly gaining momentum but as with other technologies, power and size is a limiting factor. Energy harvesting micro-devices could offer improvements in energy efficiencies. But security, quality, and interoperability will be intrinsic to the mass uptake of wearable devices, as well as the old reliable; form factor.

Online Personal Health Profile

If you don’t know about Facebook then you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years. With over 1 billion people on the platform, and a penetration rate of 67% of US internet users (82% in the U.K.), it is the most widely used social networking platform in the world. However, these numbers are highly skewed towards the young generation, with 83% of 18-29 year-olds who use the Internet also using Facebook, but the proportion is only 67% across the all-age bracket.

Join these figures with the age-utilisation profile of healthcare access, (where persons falling into the 40+ age bracket utilise health more than younger age brackets) and in ten years from now, people who are currently adept at maintaining and accessing an online profile will be in a clear position to demand their own online health profile.[/column]

Even more so, with increasing costs of healthcare provision with age, the picture is clear; healthcare providers could make a sea change if the relevant bodies were to take a lead from banking institutions by offering online accounts for patients to manage their own health that could lead to overall operating cost savings as well as benefits to the patient with long term chronic conditions. I know this is a naïve thought, particularly if one is familiar with current healthcare ICT systems and who would pay for such a thing, but its not far from the reality as the following samples illustrate.

[/column]
[/row]These are just a sample and there is a multitude of healthcare apps on the market today (a recent visit to EHI Live proved that), but when there is an array of solutions that sometimes offer the same functionality, a differentiator is required to encourage mass uptake. To achieve "first to market" an avenue worth looking into is health insurance or large medical device companies and I'll discuss this at a later point.

EHRs

It goes without saying that the future healthcare landscape relies on implementing a nationwide integrated EHR system, but this post is focused on personal health as opposed to enterprise systems. OpenApp are strong advocates of integrated EHRs and more information on this can be found by clicking here and filtering for VistA related topics.

Interoperability

I am clearly advocating technology to advance all aspects of healthcare delivery. I am but even more so, I am advocating the advanced form factor wearable monitoring device. But without clean, easy to use software with a single point of access such as an online health platform, the uptake and mass appeal of wearable technologies / medical devices will be limited. Realistically, a truly efficient system is an integrated system, which leads to development of technologies and software with inter-operability at its foundation.

Summary

At OpenApp we are focusing on the collection, management, and communication of health information through our Clinical Assessment and Registry Platform. The system is not an EHR in its traditional definition, it is interoperable at its core and has two views; a patient view and a health profession view. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact info@openapp.ie for more information.

Finally, for anyone that is interested in the current state of wearable technology, the current issues, and the future direction, you should listen to this discussion.

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