I vividly remember checking my grandpa’s blood pressure with a manual mercury blood pressure machine and carefully listening to the sounds through my stethoscope to figure out the top and bottom number of the blood pressure reading! And now, a wearable wrist device can do that automatically. Not just that, it can measure your pulse, heart rhythm, oxygen, temperature and much more. You can buy a kit and know about your genetic information. You can wear a sensor and monitor your blood glucose and may be many other labs in future. Technology has and will fundamentally change how we measure various things for our health.
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All these wearables, devices and their applications will create enormous amount of data. What is going to happen to that data? Are the doctors and health systems ready to handle this?
Apple funded one of the breakthrough studies called Apple Heart Study which was published in New England Journal of Medicine in 2019. The study had a very practical design with over 400,000 participants. The smart watch application looked for any abnormal heart rhythms and notified timely for further evaluation. Among those (2,161 participants) who received notification for abnormal rhythm, 34% had atrial fibrillation on further evaluation. They would not have known about this condition if the smartwatch did not detect it!
Very low percentage of world population currently wear a high-tech smart watch or other devices. As more and more people have these devices, imagine how much data will be generated. Smart devices and technology can have tremendous impact on our health as far as we know how to handle the data they produce. Applications backed by algorithms with strong AI and health care systems designed to triage the abnormal and critical information effectively to the health care workers without overwhelming the health system will be crucial. Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring will be indispensable as well. If done right, we can stop non urgent problem from becoming urgent and urgent problem from becoming emergent with the help of technology!
Let us see how it unfolds…
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