Data-Driven Health Care, Coming to Your Smartphone

OSF OnCall, which offers 24/7 access to a doctor over a smartphone, computer or tablet, may seem like a novel service at this point in time.

But as technology advances, we’ll be seeing more and more health care provided over personal devices.

Health Care Technology on SmartphoneThere are already apps available that allow patients to take blood-pressure readings and even give themselves an electrocardiogram, but these apps are just the beginning.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal highlighted some of the amazing technologies to come, such as:

  • Smartphone apps that measure blood-oxygen and glucose levels and heart rhythm.
  • Smartphone attachments that let parents perform eardrum exams to diagnose an infection.
  • Necklace sensors that can monitor heart function and check the amount of fluid in the lungs.
  • Contact lenses that can track glucose levels or eye pressure to help manage glaucoma.
  • Socks or shoes that can analyze a person’s gait to determine whether certain medications are working for a Parkinson’s patient.
  • Tiny devices that plug directly into smartphones to affordably analyze routine tests such as blood electrolytes; liver, kidney and thyroid function; and breath, sweat and urine.
  • Hand-held ultrasound devices and MRI machines
  • Smartphone-sized devices that can take X-rays.

These aren’t props in a sci-fi storyline, they’re on the way. And, if you want to look a little further out, consider that in the next decade technology will allow us to monitor organ systems with microscopic nanosensors embedded in the bloodstream.

These sensors will constantly monitor blood for the first appearance of cancer, autoimmune attacks or tiny cracks in artery walls that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

This data-driven medicine will enhance, rather than replace, traditional care from a doctor, so don’t delete your provider’s telephone number from your “favorites” list.

The Wall Street Journal article notes we’ll still be turning to doctors for “treatment, guidance, wisdom, experience, empathy and the human touch.”

Have a condition you need guidance on right now? Visit OSFOnCall.org any time of the day or night for a consultation with a doctor.