As we read headline after headline talking about the crisis facing our health service, it's perhaps no surprise that normal people are turning to self-management of the health conditions.
The rise of the wearables and affordable tool to monitor and even treat conditions means that the informed patient is an infinitely better place to not only manage their own health, but to give a head start to health professionals who are able to see real-time statistics rather than depending on a snapshot obtained in a hospital study.
When you add to this the increasing power of big data in crunching the numbers as they come in, the shared health experience offered by home health solutions cannot only save lives, but predict health conditions before they become acute and even help to find cures.
In her book, The Patient as CEO, Dr Robin Farmanfarmian talks about how the next few years are likely to see an explosion in medical grade devices that will allow patients to be more in control of their own health and without wishing to sound corny, their destiny.
"Imagine the impact this will have on patients." she says. "It opens up a world of independence, a world of no longer needing to spend their lives in waiting rooms, a world of no longer needing to rely on a small army of other people to help you manage your life and disease, and a world where all outcomes are improved".
When most people talk about health wearables, they think about health trackers usually worn on the arm such as Fitbit. However there are an increasing number of more accurate devices being used in places such as hospitals, whilst the home market is starting to see reasonably priced, accurate, joined up health management tech either bringing brand-new insight or adding smart technologies to things such as thermometers and blood pressure readers, both of which are currently being offered by the Withings subsidiary of Nokia.
Meanwhile, iHealth is one of a growing number of companies offering blood glucose monitoring at home, with a small attachment able to analyse blood samples from a mobile phone headphone jack.
But the biggest emerging market in the sector is for monitoring sleep. Sleep monitoring is a logical step because it offers a captive audience for an extended period offering opportunities to capture an extended range of data using relatively straightforward sensors.
The advantages of sleep monitoring go way beyond checking for sleep conditions themselves such as sleep apnoea and narcolepsy, but extend out into observation of key factors like oxygen intake, and rate of recovery both of which are of interest to professional athletes.
As a result alongside some excellent high-street products such as the Withings Aura, a number of specialised sleep monitors from companies such as Beddit and Emfit offer far more detailed information on your vitals as you sleep.
Within the NHS there are already trial schemes that look to use wearables to allow monitoring of vital signs from home. One such example is being used by kidney patients sending data from home to the clouds where it's processed and if there is an anomaly that their doctor should be aware of, calling them in, rather than wasting man hours in routine appointments when there is no problem.
But away from speciality products, there's a whole range of health benefits from other aspects of this smart new world. This article is being written using Dragon speech recognition software which requires little or no use of a keyboard or mouse. For people who suffer mobility problems or otherwise struggle to use conventional office equipment, this could be a path into work.
Earlier editions of Dragon were incredibly accurate but required a home computer with above-average processing power. The current edition does away with this instead processing the speech in the cloud and using artificial intelligence to correctly predict the intended word, understand the context and actually learn as it types.
Meanwhile, the computer's webcam is taking regular assessments of posture and warning if it could be contributing to a back condition. There are several products on the market that attached directly to the user to monitor posture including LumoLift which uses a lapel pin and Upright which physically gets stuck to the back.
It's an area that perhaps were yet to get right. Smart homes too are offering the chance of independence to those less able, with devices such as Alexa. Working in conjunction with smart bulbs or even smart sockets fitted retroactively like those provided by Energenie, but can create an environment where people can remain in their own homes where conventional technology may have trapped them.
In addition to this, carers can also act retroactively with easier than ever to call for help. A well-placed camera or motion sensor at ground level, for example, could be triggered to spot when it had been blocked for a set period and sound the alarm if it looked like the resident had full and overall without intervention from someone who may well be unconscious by the time the need to call for help arrives.
Although we've only touched on a fraction of use cases for smart health it's clearly a fascinating area that is going to become an essential part of everyday life and hopefully will start to be used to solve some of the pressures on the health service, give us back control of health, and all feel a little bit better into the bargain.
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