Guest blog from Jeroen Gaudissabois:
If Mobile World Congress 2013, held in Barcelona from 25 to 28 February 2013, made one thing clear, it is that soon we will all be doctors to some degree. Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth Smart are increasingly consumerising healthcare. Over the past few years, we have already seen an increase in wireless sports and fitness monitoring devices; now, this technology is entering the medical realm, as well.
The mere fact that a pavilion was dedicated to mobile healthcare devices at Mobile World Congress emphasises this point. In this pavilion, consumer healthcare sensors ranging from scales to blood pressure meters and more advanced monitoring systems were on display.
Take Swissmed. This Swiss company is specialised in the manufacture of an array of professional healthcare sensors that connect wirelessly to a single mobile and desktop patient-monitoring application, called MedM Platform, through Bluetooth Smart. The MedM Platform aggregates all the output from the different sensors, giving the patient a report of his general condition that can be sent to a physician.
Other companies such as Withings, Aerotel and Turkcell use similar technology to monitor the condition of patients and aggregate the data on smartphones, tablets or computers. These new technologies, in combination with information that is available on the Internet, indicate a clear shift from the traditional healthcare paradigm that is articulated around patients visiting physicians. Now, patients have easy access to tools that allow them to monitor most of their vital signs.
One might be tempted to ask if this evolution is good. Do we really want an army of self-declared doctors? This depends largely on your perspective. The devices and their accompanying aggregation applications are great, but users should stop short of Internet-enabled self-diagnosis. Leave that to the professionals. These devices can help doctors get a more long-term overview of a patient’s condition, rather than a momentary glance, greatly improving diagnostic effectiveness.
The consumerisation of healthcare should be perceived within this context. The impact of these devices and technologies is not to be underestimated. Patients gain access to accurate, easy-to-use tools that allow them to monitor their health and identify anomalies. The diagnosis itself should always remain the doctor’s responsibility.