Let’s “Talk Turkey” About Health
The following question was posed on Twitter at the Healthcare Leader (#hcldr) chat:
“Over the holidays, can we ‘talk turkey‘ about health with family and friends?”
This post happened to be scheduled right before the holidays, and I had been compiling a list of new consumer health tech that could make a difference – not just for ourselves – but in the lives of our family members and loved ones in the year ahead. The list was not meant to be commercial or comprehensive. But how could we better support each other in health? What technologies could help prevent the most chronic conditions?
At a recent family gathering, we had been discussing our health, and spontaneously decided to check our blood pressure and glucose readings. Although most of us did not have high blood pressure, and were not in the range of prediabetes, it led to a lively discussion.
Trends in mHealth, wearable tech, and the Internet of Things attract a lot of diverse opinions. There is a lot to talk about!
Early adopters enjoy the newest technologies and bold predictions, like those from futurists at Exponential Med (#xMed). The skeptics dismiss innovations like wearable tech as just a fad, or just for fitness buffs and “Quantified Selfers.” Others see the implications of new health tech as threats to privacy – like collecting and sharing data with employers and insurance companies.
Some innovations do not take off with consumers, like Google Glass, but fare better in B2B applications, according to Dr. Rafael Grossmann. His foresight for Google Glass in medicine is still one of the best use cases for the technology.
So far, Apple has pushed back the release of its new Watch. But in 2015, a number of smartwatches will have the ability to continuously collect biometric data. We can expect precise readings for heart rate, blood flow, respiration, and glucose all in one device, like the Samsung Simband. No one has a system for sharing this data “between” people yet.
New Consumer Health Tech – The Gift of Health
Wearables and health apps are great for fitness and chronic disease, but now we can use this technology for everyone to prevent chronic conditions. New tools make information accessible to the consumer that previously had only been available when seeing a doctor.
Ignite a conversation about health with family as smart consumers, and maybe they can avoid becoming patients of chronic disease.
HEART DISEASE: AliveCor
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. AliveCor lets you manage heart health by recording your own electrocardiogram, and immediately relaying if atrial fibrillation is detected. AliveCor can now also track medications, symptoms (palpitations and shortness of breath), habits (caffeine or alcohol consumption), and activities (exercise and sleep) while using the monitor and app. (AliveCor’s inventor, Dr. David Albert, is also an interesting person to follow on Twitter!)
HYPERTENSION: Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
Hypertension affects one in three adults in the U.S. But the “white coat effect” of high blood pressure readings is very real.
“Researchers concluded that repeated measurements taken at home may help give a more accurate picture of blood pressure control than a single reading in a doctor’s office.”
Researchers hope to learn more about the disease and correlations as people track their own blood pressure more regularly. Treating signs of high blood pressure early can make all the difference. Why not make it a habit to take family blood pressure readings?
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): SunSprite
Seasonal Affective Disorder, characterized by fall/winter major depression and spring/summer remission, affects up to one in ten people in some northern states. But SAD can even be found in Florida.
Interdisciplinary research is needed to advance scientific knowledge about SAD. Solar-powered SunSprite tracks sunlight impact and measures your UV exposure.
THE ELDERLY AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Amazon Echo
All signs point to Home-as-a-Platform. Amazon Echo just launched, and is already attracting a lot of controversy, not unlike the introduction of Google Glass. However, Echo could make life easier for the elderly and disabled with its voice recognition technology that is touted as superior to Apple’s Siri.
BRAIN HEALTH AND MINDFULNESS: Choose Muse
Training your brain can help you reduce stress, improve focus, and enjoy a better quality of life. Why not practice mindfulness with the whole family? The benefits of mindfulness have been proven through medical research, and can even change the brain after only eight weeks of practice.
MUSE cites research that 20 minutes of focused attention training for only 3 days in a row can measurably improve mood, as well as reduce pain, anxiety, and heart rate.
Take a Walk
After the holiday dinner, gather everyone for a walk, and talk about how you can improve your family health and fitness. Get inspired, by the stories about those who face real challenges, yet still manage to get out there and run.
I run to express the gratitude for the life that I have. – Alicia Shay
Happy Holidays! To your health!
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