TIME: “How to Carry Your Doctor in Your Pocket”

In a report for Time Techland staff reporter Alice Park looks at the mHealth opportunity.

Unfortunately I found the article doesn’t really present anything that comes even close to explaining how one might carry their Doctor in their pocket – unless of course you’re of the opinion that a Doctor is approximated by a bluetooth connected blood pressure cuff, a bandaid sensor or the motion-X sensor in your iPad.

Using a connected blood pressure monitor every night isn’t a substitute for a Doctor

The article shares the story of a 50-year-old patient who drives a truck more than 10,000+ miles a month but discovered he had high blood pressure at his Cleveland Clinic physicians office in 2008 and is now sending his blood pressure readings via his cellphone in a way that adds it to his EHR at the Cleveland Clinic. His wife who works there is then responsible for apparently alerting her husbands Doctor if the readings spike or drop below the normal range.

Apparently it’s “Thanks to this system, he’s been able to stay on the road despite having to adjust his dosage twice in the last four years. ‘The remote monitoring has kept me away from the doctor’s office’ he says”.

In my opinion its quite ridiculous to be suggesting that it’s healthy for a patient with such a occupation and such high blood pressure to be treated remotely with blood pressure medications for 4 years just because he’s using a connected blood pressure monitor every night before bed.

Also isn’t it obvious that it’s most likely not the bluetooth BP monitor or the cellphone that’s actually keeping him out of the Doctors office but the fact that he’s married to a Cleveland Clinic nurse?

The idea behind mHealth?

The article suggests that “the idea behind mobile medicine” is “to extend the borders of the doctor’s office into the home, the truck or wherever the patient may be”.

I can’t think of a more misleading way of thinking about the opportunity, you might as well think of the internet as a way of extending the school library into the home. Yes it does that but it’s also so much more and the bigger opportunities in mHealth are when we appreciate the new abilities mobile has as the newest mass media and how they can be used to optimise our healthcare experience (eg. sharing recordings of our vitals that are captured more regularly while away from the clinic) and to do things we could never have done before (eg using ECG analyzing games to teach ourselves how to relax, enable us to video consult with an informed Doctor from anywhere at anytime, etc).

Confusion about mHealth being a subset of Telemedicine?

It seems much of the confusion arises from the idea that mHealth is the “latest expansion of telemedicine“. Contrary to the claims in the article telemedicine never “began as a way to connect remotely located patients to high quality care by allowing doctors to fax and then send digital images across long distances” it happened long before that with voice and even before that still with data eg. in 1912 within a few years of the invention of wireless Marconi engineers on the Titanic sent MayDay messages that saved hundreds of lives, Apollo 11 Astronauts used telemedicine and they had reached the moon by 1969 (a time when fax machines still weighed 50lbs and engineers had only just started working out how to run them over normal telephone lines).

Are Senory Band Aid’s the best way of detecting patients have fallen or have wandered?

The report suggests enthusiasm for a “microsensor patch” being developed by Securatrac but I wonder if they’re aware that there are already mobile connected care monitors available that can already do this with zero contact whilst also providing home alarm, power supply and temperature monitoring, and all for a cost of only $100?

iPad accelorometers to determine concussion in football players

On the football field, doctors are also using mobile technology to develop a better way to assess players who may have experienced a concussion. They’re taking advantage of the accelerometer in iPads to objectively measure how much someone who has hit his head sways at the hips; the researchers who developed the app can strap an iPad to the player and objectively measure how far he moves. Doctors define anything greater than 30 degrees as the dizziness typical of a concussion. Without the app, they could only make guesses about how dizzy players were, leading not only to false positive but undiagnosed concussions as well

Once again it seems like there’s much more effective ways to do this already in the market eg. ones that aren’t as disruptive to play and don’t rely on hits being spotted in the first place (one of the major problems in this area is that the players aren’t always honest when they’ve felt dizzy as they want to continue playing).

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One Response to TIME: “How to Carry Your Doctor in Your Pocket”

  1. Pingback: Why I think all Doctors should not only be provided with free access to a service like 3G Doctor but be required to use it regularly « mHealth Insight: the blog of 3G Doctor

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