When we think about our favourite apps, social media sites or video games, chances are we’re not considering how they might improve our health, further clinical research, or even save lives in the operating room. Doctors, healthcare professionals and patients are increasingly engaged with digital devices – technology that may have begun as entertainment, but has now evolved to hold a much more impactful place in our lives. Take a look at three of the most talked about tech trends that are changing the landscape of traditional health care.
Quantitative Self and Personalized Big Data
A new movement is gaining traction amongst the uber health-conscious. Known as Quantitative Self (QS), it involves using digital tech to track, chart and analyze personal habits and states of being. Diet, mood, bowel movements, sleep quality, exercise – they can all be easily reduced to pie-charts and excel files. The resultant abundance of personalized Big Data can help individuals take charge of and better understand their own health – and it could pave the way for more highly customized drug therapies. Drugmakers and students in pharmaceutical courses grasp that the more we understand the body, the closer we come to developing targeted treatments. QS can yield the kind of data that changes how drug companies do research, conduct trials and enhance pharmaceutical quality control.
Google Glass as a medical accessory
Google Glass, a wearable computer that resembles a pair of eyeglasses, offers users much more than a jump ahead of the latest trends in wearable tech. Over the past year, Google Glass has been implemented as a live streaming device, broadcasting surgical operations in real time for teaching purposes. In the midst of procedures, surgeons have used the device to bring up test results and x-rays, without needing to turn away from the operating table. And when it comes to treatment, patients could merely look at a prescription bottle and have a video reminder of how and when to take their pills leap to life before their eyes – just like a virtual pharmacist, on demand.
Gaming for better health care
It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but “serious games” have become a well-established part of medical training for many programs, and an effective means of supporting patient health. A wide range of serious games are now being used to train doctors and nurses – programs like Pulse! that support accurate diagnoses, and Virtual Pain Manager, which provides education on post-operative pain control. My Procedure is a serious game that helps patients prepare for treatment of urological conditions. There are even games for pharmaceutical reps that provide training in marketing and social communication.
How do you see self-tracking expanding in the future as a means of preserving and promoting good health?