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Reimagining Personal Health Devices

Reimagining Personal Health Devices

As slick as some new medical devices are, they represent "inside the box thinking," literally. Let's begin by looking at modern consumer electronics. I recently replaced some my audio/visual equipment. The new TV, receiver and BlueRay player all have wifi and Ethernet ports. Each can be controlled over the network and there is an iPad/iPhone app for each one. The receiver even reports back to the app with real-time information about what channel is playing, the selection, cover art, and volume. This feature is especially helpful for the receiver which has all of its buttons labeled in dark gray on a black background making them effectively invisible.

Now let's consider the home blood pressure (BP) monitor, the glucose meter, and the peak flow meter; the BP and glucose devices are computerized.

Some models have big buttons and big displays, but some don't. The display and the buttons are expensive components, and the ones most likely to fail. I understand that not everyone has a tablet or a smartphone, but many do. Think of the possibilities. The phone could remind you when it's time for a reading, let you control the meter and take the measurement, and it could store the data and send it directly to your doctor or personal health record. The cost and size of the meters could be reduced as well.

Peak flow presents an interesting opportunity. Today, most devices for home use are mechanical, not computerized like the ones used in offices.

My impression is that home peak flow monitoring is done too infrequently by too few patients and that the maneuver is often performed incorrectly. If a computerized device was constructed without a display or buttons, the cost could be minimized. The device could give the patient feedback on inadequate effort as well as reminding them and collecting data for their physician.

The possibilities are exciting and these examples only scratch the surface. People are buying devices just to play "Angry Birds," why not exploit their full potential?

Find out more about Dan Essin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

 
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