In the near future it could be that the only place you’ll be able to see a stethoscope will be in a museum. These devices, once mainstays of modern medicine, are quickly being replaced (along with many of their archaic cousins) by far more advanced technology that can monitor not only your heartbeat, but seven vital signs all at the same time.
Better still, this monitoring can take place outside of your physician’s office, while you workout, sit at your desk at work or even while you sleep.
Your doctor needn’t even be present. When you go to check your email, you’ll be able to monitor your blood pressure, temperature, glucose levels, sleep patterns, energy expenditures, and more.
This is the next level of taking control of your health!
Making Strides Toward Consumer-Driven Health Care
What’s most exciting about the wireless health care revolution is that it puts you in control, allowing you to track and monitor your health. This gives you vital information like never before, and you can use this information strategically to prevent chronic health conditions.
Just as many people now keep track of their fitness programs or calorie intake, and adjust them accordingly to lose or gain weight, you’ll be able to track fluctuations in other vital signs and make informed health choices.
Further, if you’re one of the 100 million Americans already living with a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, wireless technologies may be able to detect important shifts in your health sooner, allowing you to have an early warning that there’s an impending problem.
These applications are picking up where conventional medicine has dismally failed … they are offering a streamlined approach to disease prevention … that is, provided you use the information and make the corresponding healthy choices.
The potential is truly endless.
From Prevention to Chronic Disease Management
As Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist with the prestigious Cleveland Clinic Foundation (who, by the way, became one of the most outspoken critics of drug companies), pointed out in the video above, wireless health care will be important for both preempting disease and managing illness.
Alzheimer’s patients could use the “smart band-aids” to help with balance and vital signs, along with offering a way to track their location, for instance.
Asthma patients could track pollen counts and air quality before venturing outdoors, while heart failure patients could benefit from continuous monitoring of their heart pressures, blood pressure and fluid status.
Dr. Topol is the chief medical officer of West Wireless Health Institute, which offers a streamlined explanation of wireless health care that I wanted to share with you:
"Regardless of the factor influencing a condition, wireless technologies offer great promise for helping people stay healthy. Wireless sensors, for example, can detect a 'shift' in health as soon as it occurs.
A patient with high blood pressure can be monitored with a wireless device that picks up changes and sends an early warning to the doctor – preempting complications such as stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.
Researchers have also developed algorithms that detect individual preference and treatment compliance patterns, making it possible to create personalized applications for end-users that provide timely advice and automated reminders to take medication or modify behavior."
Among the innovations being developed by the West Wireless Health Institute are:
- Smart Pill: Wireless sensors embedded on a pill that measure your body’s response to medications.
- Smart Patch: A smart “band-aid” that will measure your heart rate and rhythm, calorie intake and expenditure, and hours of quality sleep.
You can expect to see many more innovations coming to the marketplace soon. For now wireless health care is still in the beginning stages, but it is set to explode and will likely become the standard of future health care.
One Caveat and Caution …
I’m a major advocate of technology, and these new developments are not only exciting but set to change health care as we now know it. That said, although the benefits are potentially immense, there is one consideration that I haven’t seen mentioned, and that is the impact of wireless technologies themselves on human health.
I am so convinced of the inherent dangers of wireless technologies (including WI-FI, cell phones, cordless phones, etc.) that I had my new home completely renovated with wired CAT-5 cables a few years back -- so I have no wireless connections at all.
I am concerned that as wireless technologies become increasingly integrated into our lives, including in the management of our health care, it will become even more difficult to avoid exposures to the potentially damaging electromagnetic fields and radiation.
This is a new frontier with uncharted risks … and it will be important to weigh the benefits against these risks as the technologies become available.
For now, I encourage you to continue to take control of your health by making healthy lifestyle choices and staying tuned in to the newsletter for the latest health information and updates for yourself and your family.