By Tamsin McMahon - Monday, March 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
How apps and social media are revolutionizing health care
In 2005, Walter De Brouwer’s five-year-old son was rushed to the hospital with a severe head injury after falling more than 30 feet out of a window. In the three months that his son spent in the intensive care unit, De Brouwer, a Belgian tech entrepreneur transplanted to Silicon Valley, took to learning the myriad hospital machinery that tracked his son’s vital signs. He began bringing his laptop to the hospital, copying the reams of data into an Excel spreadsheet to study the relationship between his son’s blood pressure and heart rate, or the way his condition seemed to decline around the same time each night.
When his son was well enough to be discharged to a regular hospital room, De Brouwer panicked. “I knew this environment and these numbers and then I had to go to a room with no numbers, not even a computer,” he says. “I thought, ‘Why do I only have a thermometer at home?’ Perhaps we should know more about our health before it gets bad.”
The experience gave him the idea for the Scanadu Scout, a futuristic palm-sized device that can monitor five different vital signs, including temperature, heart rate and blood oxygenation level, by just holding it to your temple for 10 seconds. It then transmits the results wirelessly to your smartphone so you can track your health information over time, seeing, for instance, if a certain medication makes your heart rate climb, or what’s going on inside your body on those nights when you can’t fall asleep.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM - 0 Comments
You’re achy, slightly feverish, and that rash you’ve had on your back for a week hasn’t gone away. In a haze, you log online to peruse WebMD. After all, you’re a pretty savvy researcher, even a nerd, and you just want to find out what might be ailing you.
POW! WAM! BAM! The suggestions about the causes of your symptoms cascade over you like a tsunami of anxiety. Syphillis! Lyme disease! Dengue Fever! All are equally plausible, according to Dr. Google. Even though you know the Internet has a tendency to tell you that you have cancer when you really have a cold, your heart begins to race, your cheeks flush, and you start imagining what your friends will say at your funeral.
In many ways, the Internet has leveled the playing field between health-care providers and patients, and the questions we ask Google about our health woes are probably more honest than the ones we’d ever dare ask our doctors.