AlcoSystems is a Swedish company that have developed the “iBAC AlcoMeter” which is a “mobile device connected alcometer”. I think this is exactly the type of technology that will be empowered by 3G Video Calling with a Healthcare professional and so was really keen to catch up with the team behind it, get a demo and find out more. To say I was impressed is a big understatement, together with 3G Video Calling this product offers a step change in Alcohol Treatment Programmes.
The company is built on the increasing focus on alcohol related issues across the world and make this clear in their excellent product brief (downloadable here). In summary and to ensure you have an idea of the immense issue: In the industrialised world alcohol is the 3rd largest risk factor for illnesses and accidents. This problem can be managed through use of technologies that can accurately measure the degree of sobriety and twinning this with an operatives ability to use machinery or vehicles. One in market implementation of this can be found in the alcohol breath monitors that Volvo have fitted to some of their car ignitions.
The AlcoSystem improves on this though as it is built upon the iBAC Alcometer which is a small patented portable alcometer that can send its results via the mobile network (by communicating through a bluetooth paired mobile phone).
The device is already being used by researchers at the Karolinska Institiute in a ground breaking Alcohol Treatment Programme for convicted Drink Drivers. Whilst I must find more information, the results of this appear very impressive:
> Convicted drivers are able to get a reduced sentence if they are willing to enter a treatment programme that requires them to use a iBAC Alcometer to regularly test themselves to prove their sobriety
> The cost for device is picked up by the participant via a rental scheme
> Authorities can save the normal penal costs of jail etc
> Results recieved by monitoring station also include GPS Location Data
> Participants are required to make 20 tests at regular intervals throughout the day
> Healthcare professionals can get a chance to tackle the underlying alcoholism issues which lead to repeat offending
To my mind the potential for 3G Video Calling to add value here arises from it’s ability to create a random spot check deterrent environment (reducing the disruptive need for such regular testing) and preventing the system from being cheated (eg. by having a colleague or using some sort of contraption – AKA a bag filled with air – to trick the device).
Watching the subject produce the sample would help ensure that and it could also enable the technology to be twinned with useful 1-2-1 video counselling advice. There are countless news headlines and personal tragedy stories that illustrate the huge market potential of such a self managed service to support the likes of Pilots, Teachers, Paramedics, Doctors, who are having problems with alcohol abuse.
I hope that as we expand our services at 3G Doctor we will be able to use this technology as part of a “logging on process” to monitor the sobriety of our home working Doctors as I think it would be another assurance to patients and show consideration of the supervision needs of a remotely connected team.
If you would like to collaborate on a project to test this device and 3G Video Call service delivery in the UK or Irish markets please get in touch with us via the contact us page on the 3G Doctor website.
This blog post is part of a series of mHealth reviews from the Mobile World Congress 2010. Click here to get the full review.