Last year we featured an article from Beth Kanter on ‘The Future of Personal Health Data,’ and now, the question of its practical medical use has been placed firmly on the table in a recent NPR article. Amy Standen enquires as to why Dr Paul Abramson, a self proclaimed techie, is caused to pause for thought at the proliferation of gadgets that collect health data.
Abramson says all the information these devices collect can be overwhelming. He goes as far as to share a story where a “patient arrived with pages and pages of Excel spread sheets full of data — everything from heart rate to symptoms to medications.” Abramson says he didn’t know what to do with it all. “Going through it and trying to analyze and extract meaning from it was not really feasible.” He reminds us that he “gets information from watching people’s body language, tics and tone of voice.” These are “subtleties you just can’t get from a Fitbit or some kind of health app.”
“A patient arrived with pages and pages of Excel spread sheets full of data — everything from heart rate to symptoms to medications.”
Further to Dr. Abramson’s views, Dr. Michael Blum points out that while doctors need technological updates, “Apple watches and fitbits aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Adminstation (FDA – the regulating body for health in America).” As a result, Blum now heads a new department at the University of California, San Francisco, created to determine which technologies are game changing and which are dead ends.
It is clear from this NPR article that the future of wearable tech needs further shaping, but by no means do doctors want to compromise quality of care by rushing into a reliance on wearable tech.
With thanks to Amy Standen for compiling the original article and interviews, which you can also listen to on NPR. Be sure to follow Amy Standen and NPR, and stay tune for updates in wearable tech and more.