How Will Technological Advancements Affect the Future of Personal Health?
I remember the release of the personal computer for home use. We were the first household of all our friends to have one. My dad worked in a large tech company called Control Data Corporation, and I remember visiting his work and seeing a really large noisy room that housed the computer “brain”. It was a mainframe that was supersized! My dad was so excited about the possibilities for the future, although I really didn’t understand his excitement; and frankly, I must confess that I still struggle to comprehend the potential that technology holds.
Some time has passed since the encounter with my first personal computer, and technological has advanced immensely as well. We now see many innovative, futuristic, technological additions to every industry from Accounting to Waste Management! However, what interests me most, are the improvements to personal mental health with the help from technology.
Take for example the latest ‘boom’ in wearable health technologies, such as the Fitbit, Jawbone and Apple Watch. Tracking heart rates, activity levels, even mood and blood pressure levels have now become a reality for many. Having this technological ability to access personal health indicators, such as blood sugar/insulin levels, even medication usage, must be a fantastic leap forward! However… as we continue to innovate our way through the health industry with more and more new technological advances, we can begin to see the scary side of blending the ‘technological and personal’ as well.
There is recent discussion in Canada about Proteus, a digestible digital microchip that monitors a person’s medication compliance by communicating through smart technology to a person’s physician. The US Food and Drug administration is considering an application for this technology to be used with the drug called Abilify. If approval is given, patients can take pills that will allow the healthcare professional to monitor how and when they use it. The benefits are clear to me: a physician can have reliable knowledge of a patient’s medication compliance which can be very helpful for decisions to ensure patients receive the best care possible. However, the introduction of this technology raises many ethical questions about patient consent, protection of privacy of health information, and the possibility for a new compliance mechanism for some medication use.
What do you think? Do you think the risks and down sides are worth the potential benefits? Read some more articles here explaining the “price” of wearable health, and high-tech medications with high-stake implications. Comment on this post, I want to hear what you have to say!
Diana Vissers is the Founder and Director of Corporate Services at Work to Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. – a Canadian company providing expert disability management services to Canadian customers. She is in the business of making your place of business healthy, safe and productive. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news and updates on health, wellness and integrated disability management.