Technology and health has always had an interdependent relationship. The use of ultra sound while in the womb, an X-Ray after an injury or perhaps even the use of a hearing aid. Medical tools and tech have undoubtedly assisted the advance of medical care and helped to prolong and better our lives.
The Rise of the Digital Ecosystem
Mobile apps are the next wave of technology to transform our health and medical care. Apps and tech such as ProtoGeo, Razor Nabu and Misfit will help health conscious individuals to count calories and track their fitness activity. While other apps such as those developed by uMotif Digital Health will enable the creation of digital ecosystems where the doctor patient relationship will be significantly improved by advanced knowledge. Already uMotif’s apps are being used in Diabetes and Alzheimer’s care on the NHS.
Meanwhile, AliveCor is an app that can provide ECGs from the comfort of your own home by utilising a heart monitoring case that can be attached to most smart phones. Other technologies include digital drugs that can monitor the body internally, and fertility technology that monitors the best time for conception.
These technological developments have in many cases only become possible due to the advance of mobile technology. The development of pre-emptive healthcare rather than reactive healthcare is incredibly important and will save lives. The implications of this form of medical technology are significant. The patient doctor relationship will be transformed as will our relationship with technology.
Research and Medical Tech
From a research point of view the interaction between consumers and these new technologies has yet to be fully explored and exploited. Companies are generally familiar with market research on standard technological products but the health dimension adds many more strands, complexities and ethical considerations to any potential research.
Moreover, it is important that companies understand the limitations of their technologies in terms of the user. For example if the new apps are not or cannot be used by a certain demographic then the potential advantage of the technology is significantly reduced. Therefore, understanding consumer attitudes in terms of usability, accessibility and privacy are incredibly important. With this knowledge, apps and portable technology are likely to be a major part of future healthcare.