Your smartphone may very well become your greatest ally in terms of caring for your health, if researchers, doctors, and software developers have anything to say about it. As of the writing of this post, more than 75,000 people are enrolled in health studies that rely on the patients’ smartphones to record and transmit vital, up-to-the-minute health data for medical professionals to analyze.
According to an article by Brandon Bailey of the Denver Post, “Smartphone apps are the latest tools to emerge from the intersection of health care and Silicon Valley, where tech companies are working on new ways of bringing patients and doctors together online, applying massive computing power to analyze DNA and even developing ingestible ‘smart’ pills for detecting cancer.”
Right now, the greatest purpose for these apps is in the gathering of live data on the patients, whether it’s in the form of voluntary questions and answers or utilizing the smartphone’s features–like its motion sensors, used to study a dementia patient’s walking patterns–to detect increases in impairments. So far, the medical profession is using patients’ smartphones’ motion sensors, microphones, touchscreens, and more to detect changes in the users’ capabilities. After all, the phone is something patients carry with them throughout the day, often on their person or in their pockets, which means it can provide a wealth of real-time data to their doctors.
While there will forever be privacy and data security concerns, an especially troubling conundrum when you combine highly sensitive medical information with online activity and Location Services, this type of medical-digital interaction is already being hailed as a great equalizer in medicine. It will no longer be a requirement for patients to live in a major metropolitan area in order to see specialists and top-notch professionals, since their information can be sent across vast virtual distances. This level of democracy in the healthcare field has never been seen before, and it couldn’t come at a better time.