How long ago have you been in the outpatient clinic? I have been there recently. No, I'm not getting sick often, it's just that if the body gives any hint that something is not okay, I prefer to check the simplest and most important indicators of my health. And, yes, sometimes it takes me to the clinic.
THE TEMPLE OF QUEUES
Get through the registry, take a ticket, come, sit the queue, get a consultation, take tests, sign up again, and so on ... Many of my friends and acquaintances prefer to undergo this fancy path as rarely as possible. And I understand them: in most cases the result of a doctor's visit, if not absent, is at least not obvious. Most visits are a waste of time. But, at some point, it may be found that a person has a cancer or some other disease. And it's important not to miss this moment.
The Unfortunately, the existing ratio "number of visits / result" creates in our heads a kind of wall of laziness and excuses. Laziness is a very useful quality of people, which does not allow the body to do unnecessary work, which is not required for survival. Our brain tells us: "Hey, you should not go to a clinic for every sneeze, it's hardly something serious! You have lots of work and cockroaches are not fed yet!". And really - not worth it. But how to know for sure that this time you were not mistaken? After all, there are a large number of ailments, that go unnoticed in the initial stages.
Then I naturally thought about tracking. "Why not monitor your own health in automatic mode?", I thought. And so it was thought by Google, Microsoft, Apple and a hundred other companies and they began to build a new IT infrastructure in the field of healthy lifestyles.
Moreover, during the last few years a real struggle has begun to unfold: each of the giants is trying to snatch off its market piece, and their methods can hardly be called elegant. Apple brought to market their Apple Watch, obviously, with just one goal - for the sake of tracking health indicators. Microsoft is working in a similar direction with its Microsoft Band, which has an optical heart rate sensor, an ultraviolet sensor, a sensor that determines skin moisture by its conductivity. These are only input direct indicators, from which you can indirectly calculate the set of others with a certain accuracy.
Google is engaged in fitness-API and indirectly receive interested users, providing a platform in the form of the Play Market for various fitness services and similar applications. Crowdfunders also don't slumber, working on devices such as Angel, in which, in addition to the heart rate monitor, there is also a sensor for detection of blood saturation with oxygen.
Thus, the tendency is seen as follows:
1. The main audience - people who are interested in a healthy lifestyle.
2. Of the technologies presented, there are smartphones, short-range radio communication, sensors that track several simple indicators. Almost all these indicators refer to the cardiovascular system.
3. There is a bunch: user - sensor - client (smartphone) - server + analytics.
As long as the above chain exists, all the benefits will be presented only by conclusions about the effectiveness of training and the number of steps / kilometers in order to spread the results in social networks.
HERE YOU NEED A DOCTOR
Why not connect the doctor (here I'm talking more about medical centers, although in different countries there are other options) to several patients, giving him the results of data analytics, taken automatically from the patient during the day? After all, then the doctor could prevent more diseases, proceeding in a latent form, suggesting the patient to visit the medical consultation in case the data exceeds the limits of the individual norm. Even with the use of modern sensors, with a certain mass character, it would be possible to collect an unprecedented amount of pulsometry data and, based on general patterns, make assumptions on particular cases. And the diseases of the cardiovascular system now stand in the first place among the most common causes of death on Earth.
"... in 2012, 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease, that is, 3 out of every 10. Out of this number, 7.4 million people died from coronary heart disease and 6.7 million people from a stroke."
- World Health Organization
Recently there was news about the company Palantir. Their leader, Peter Thiel, takes seriously the idea of combining artificial intelligence with the human brain, as they balance the strengths and weaknesses of each other. It worked for them. Can work here too. If the computer can analyze a large amount of data, the doctor will be able to decide whether or not it is really worth worrying about the patient, or the analytics made a mistake.
In order to compare the results, the patient can work directly with several specialist doctors in areas that are relevant to the user. For example, do you have heart problems or you're overweight? Let the cardiologist monitor heart rate, and a dietician should take care of motor activity. And better if all together.
There is already work started in this direction. For example, QOC Health implements the user-sensor-client(smartphone)-server-doctor scheme. They promise such effects from using their system, such as a reduction in the number of cases of emergency hospitalization, visits to clinics, and a reduction in transportation costs associated with visits to health facilities. And that would be great. But, like any innovation, there are a lot of obstacles before the implementation of this. Here are some of them:
1. Conservativeness of the medical sphere: doctors will not be ready to take responsibility for their decisions regarding a patient they may not even have seen or were guided only by their metrics when making decisions.
2. Not enough free time: the doctor must take breaks from work during the day to check on his outsourced patients, or to allocate extra time before or after the main shift.
3. Lack of data: the parameters of the cardiovascular system, and also use of an accelerometer and a gyroscope, don't give possibility of obtaining much data that would be significant for remote health assessment.
There are also problems concerning patient and doctor communication, the laws of different countries in this area. But we are not going to discuss them, because these problems are related to the specific implementation of the system.
THE FUTURE IS CLOSER THAN IT SEEMS. AS ALWAYS
Anyway, at the moment somewhere in the secret laboratories of well-known and not so much companies, quite possibly beeing developed similar systems that will bring this area to a new level. Now the trend in this area is similar to what happened to the mobile phone market at its dawn: at that time, individual manufacturers made their OS and tried to earn revenue by tying the user to them. Gradually left only those who decided to share the income - allow others to make applications. In the field of "cloud medicine" a similar situation is possible: large companies are trying to tie sensors to specific systems and principles, whereas soon everyone will need a single interface.
But one of the most important questions is: "Will people use such a system?". Would you use such a system? And how personally do you see it?
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Thanks for reading, and be healthy!