The home network and the Internet is now becoming an essential part of personal health care in may ways thanks to a variety of technologies.
Level playing field for health-care sensor devices
Certain technologies are making this feasible through the use of device classes for health-specific devices such as blood-pressure / pulse cuffs, blood sugar monitors and heart-rate monitors. They are also being enabled with low-voltage wireless technologies like Bluetooth Smart and up-and-coming low-voltage Wi-Fi designs.
These devices are being made able to work from two AA batteries or a 3V watch battery for a long time, yet use an industry-common data link and device class. The actual benefit from these design factors is the ability to supply health-care sensor devices that are cost-effective to buy and maintain; yet are able to integrate with common computing devices.
Ubiquity of open computing platforms for this application
It is being extended with the availability of regular, mobile and TV-based computing platforms like Windows, MacOS X, iOS and Android as foundations for software that records and / or reports medical-status information.
The software can be designed to keep a local or cloud-based record and signal to health-carers and/or close relatives and friends if there are abnormal events. In some cases, details can be passed through immediately to the health-care professional who is supervising the patient.
Where do I see this being applicable
I see this technology being applicable for the management of chronic illnesses where the patient can manage the illness themselves with little outside intervention. This may extend to the care of pregnant women who have a low risk of birth complications. Even when the patient must travel to the health-care professional for an appointment, both the professional and the patient are in a better position to know “what’s going on” through the treatment process.
It also adds a sense of dignity to the care and treatment process by allowing one to integrate the management procedures in to their lifestyle without feeling awkward about it. This would benefit younger and middle aged people more so especially when they are encumbered with these illnesses like diabetes.
I see it also benefiting people living in rural areas in many ways. The telehealth technology can allow a specialist based at a small or larger town to manage multiple patients and only have to travel out to attend those at risk. As well, the patient wouldn’t need to travel out to the doctor unless necessary.
It can also assist with the ageing process for seniors who want to live in their own home, live in an “own space” near their relatives such as a granny flat or live in low-needs supported retirement accommodation. Here, the technology can help with supervising medical and other therapies or simply make sure they are OK without intruding on their lifestyle and dignity. In this case, it could augment other technology projects that are in progress or being completed that assist older people with their daily lives.
Similarly, the technology would help with sports medicine in allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts, along with their trainers, know their limits and how they are performing through their workouts so they can exercise in an optimum way.
I would still like to see the telehealth technologies work as a complement to the personal touch in personal health care rather than distance the patient from the professional. The technologies can be seen as a tool for helping us stay well and independent; as well as conquer distance.