Just been reading an interesting article about “Whoop” which is a wearable device that measures and monitors your bodies vital signs. In our health and wellbeing focus we are more than ever conscious of our bodies. Amplified by the Coronovirus we welcome tools that monitor such things as elevated respiratory rate which could be an indication of Covid19. My gut reaction is to compare and authenticate with traditional methods.
Are wearables going to be good as doctors?
I suspect the answer at the moment would be no. Wearables at the moment can collect data, Doctors interpret the data. There is no doubt that it will aide doctors in their diagnosis and with a system that Wyvern Systems are developing could be a valuable tool in monitoring patients with a variety of medical conditions from asthma to heart conditions to diabetes. The implications are enormous as we move into more remote working. So alongside remote working we have remote medical monitoring. Just like driveless cars we have an ethical consideration to make. There is a feeling of unease and trustworthiness about the introduction of automatic systems. But as I use the docklands railway as an example. That has been running for years without a serious incident and I am sure we don’t think about it any longer. I predict we will have the same reaction to wearables for medical useage. It will just be another tool to add to our biological kit of aids we use such as Blood pressure and Oxygen kits both of which can be incorporated into a wearable.
Another trend is in self-diagnosis via Smart Speakers. Amazon in the states is looking into this and have devised an expert system that can help with diagnosis and suggest treatments. It can’t administer them but it could inform. The danger there is the problem we can identify with being the human trait of reading medical dictionaries or websites and thinking we have all the symptoms in the world!
For both types of devices – wearables and smart speakers – they are going to be of immense value to the disabled. Those suffering with MS, Parkinsons, Stroke where hand function has gone. Medical professionals can be alerted to any changes of state even before the patient knows! Calling for help is the biggest problem for those with these conditions. If systems can alert to potential dangers that takes the pressure of the patient. The problem often seen in care homes is – will anyone come? The infrastructure to make this work is significant and if the UK governments extra money for the NHS to cover backlog is anything to go by will it look at infrastructure of data protection, data access and integrated systems. There have been a few problems when this has been attempted in the past. Look at Track and Trace for instance!
As the UK and the western world’s population gets older we are going to need more automotive systems to cope. The old traditional ways can’t manage the demand and so we have to turn to technology to help us. I am not a medical practitioner just an Assistive Technologist who happens to have medical needs. I use wearables myself as I have shared on this blog in the past. At the moment the technology is evolving and as it does so the questions of accuracy of measurement will be a key issue alongside the ethical issue of do I trust the tech. Increasingly we shall see the demand rise and so too will be our capacity to change.