AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Knowledge: Can Too Much Be Just As Dangerous As Too Little

What does the “world’s first evidence-based mobile resilience program”, a 21-day personalized program to help wearers manage their stress and build mental resilience, and the “Shimmer3”, a slim-line sensor that can be strapped to an athlete’s arm in training to provide coaches with biophysical data, have in common? These are just two of the many hundreds new wearable electronic monitoring devices entering the crowded medical application market. Wearable monitoring devices are not new as healthcare providers have been utilizing devices to collect data on patients suffering from chronic diseases such as cardiac disease and diabetes.

To spur innovation, last year Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of the chip maker Qualcomm and a big sponsor of wireless healthcare technology, announced a $10m prize for a Star Trek-style “tricorder” to be awarded to the first developer to succeed in designing a mobile platform capable of diagnosing a set of 15 conditions, including pneumonia, diabetes and sleep apnea, without recourse to a doctor or nurse. Don Jones, vice-president of Qualcomm Life, says, “Think of every way you have ever interacted with a medical professional or someone in a clinical setting – a doctor, a nurse, or your corner pharmacist – then think how that can be replicated digitally so that the process is both more convenient and faster,” he says. “The odds are that someone in Silicon Valley is already working on it.”

You can find high-tech wearable gadgets around the wrist, ankles and chests of just about every tech savvy enthusiast, leading some to champion their appearance as a means of keeping us all more in tune with our own health. Others are expressing cautious concern on how data is being interpreted by the less medically trained among us. What do we lose when healthcare becomes nothing more than a stream of digitalized physiological outputs, parsed and quantified by algorithms without the interpretation of experienced medical providers? The rise of digital medicine will have significant impact on the health and welfare of patients with the manner in which it is utilized determining whether this will be for better or for worse.

“Advancements in telemedicine allow us to provide acute stroke care quickly and efficiently, in situations where seconds matter,” comments Dr. James Kiely, partner, AcuteCare Telemedicine. “As technology reaches another inflection point with consumers, it’s important to educate users that data is more valuable in the hands of a board-certified medical practitioner.”

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