Picture this: Troy is sitting on a crowded bus headed towards Grand Central Station. He just came back from three months of volunteering overseas and knows that there’s an extremely slight chance he was exposed to Ebola during his travels.
Like most people in his position would, Troy is getting right back to his typical routine. But he isn’t as irresponsible as you might think. He knows that Ebola has an incubation period and he would not be contagious until he started showing symptoms. Troy is also wearing a Bluetooth-connected biometric device that is constantly measuring body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen levels. If any of these indicate potential signs of the virus, the data will automatically be sent to Troy’s doctor for evaluation. With this device, Troy could potentially get treated for Ebola before he even notices any symptoms.
This example is fiction, but the device is real. And it illustrates exactly how technology is revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
Biometric devices such as these can monitor various bodily functions and automatically send information to doctors. These doctors can also easily access personal electronic health records to provide fast and seamless care. These are not futuristic goals. Technology is already revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
A power shift in healthcare
One of the biggest, and possibly most welcome, changes that healthcare technology brings is a shift in power. With the advent of wearables, telemedicine and mobile-ready information, consumers are taking control over their own health like never before.
This shift is taking place almost despite the struggles that we’re seeing at higher levels of policymaking. Technology and innovation are the true drivers of healthcare reform, and they are often being led by people and organizations outside of the healthcare industry.
Consumer health products
In the past decade, consumers have had access to more medical information than ever, and it has solidified the power shift, making way for the revolution we’re seeing today. Wearables are becoming more popular as people begin to take charge of their own health. It may start with a Fitbit, but the advances do not stop there. There are consumer products in the works to measure anything from brain waves to glucose levels, and they are all aimed at helping consumers live more fulfilled lives. In addition to using biometric information for traditional healthcare, companies are starting to market products directly to consumers to help enhance their lives. Imagine a wearable device that uses your unique heart rhythm as a key to unlock your house or car. We can easily see this type of technology emerge within the next decade.
Unlimited possibilities of a technology revolution
Biometric devices and wearables are making huge waves in healthcare, and things like telemedicine are helping more people find ways to access care than ever before. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry. But where does it end? Imagine an apartment with health and wellness sensors throughout. These sensors can tell if you’re about to fall or if your temperature is running high. Your mirror can even monitor your face for signs that you may be unwell. It sounds a bit like something from a sci fi movie, but this apartment is real, and it’s part of a study being carried out by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The bigger picture of health and technology
Although some of the newer technologies may pose questions about privacy and security, it remains obvious how these things can save lives and help people live better. And while we may not be living in fully-sensored apartments any time soon, we can expect to see a more streamlined and technologically-advanced healthcare system in the coming years.