With the advances in technology over the past 10 years, medical monitoring has advanced from wired monitors, such as with diabetes patients, who must manually input their glucose levels into an insulin pump attached to the belt to the wireless NUVANT Mobile Cardiac Telemetry System for patients with cardiac arrhythmia. This device allows the patient to record his heart rhythms and upload them to a wireless transmitter, which then send the data to the doctor. Other advances in medical monitoring involve the use of a patient’s smartphone to monitor the patient’s medical conditions and transmit directly to the cloud or email the results directly to the doctor for interpretation. This paper discusses the advances made in medical monitoring using smartphone applications (apps) and the future of wireless medical technology.
The Present and Future of Smartphones as Aids in Medical Monitoring In today’s world, technology is advancing at an accelerating rate. Computers, home entertainment and cellular phone technology are just a few examples of how far technology has advanced over the last few years alone, permeating all walks and facets of life. Medicine is no exception to this rule. Over the last thirty years alone we have witnessed medical technology advance from the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989, to Telesurgery in 2001, to the advent of wireless and patient-managed technology for medical monitoring in the 2010s. New technologies are granting patients with chronic medical problems the ability to gain control of their conditions without compromising their mobility. It has become important to have an automated real-time system for checking important values such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, daily activity, symptom responses, and so forth. Home monitoring devices are now available to patients with direct access to patient information to the doctor’s office and its staff. As stated in the journal Biomedical Engineering Online, “medication adherence is a major problem amongst patients with chronic conditions and…that technology can play an important role” (Boulos, Wheeler, Tavares, & Jones, 2011). At the forefront of this patient-managed technology is the smartphone. A smartphone is a device that combines a cellular phone with a handheld computer, typically offering Internet access, data storage, e-mail capability, etc.(Dictionary.com). With the rapid developments in wireless technology, medicine has now become one of the leading industries to utilize these new developments. Eric Topol, a leading cardiologist who has embraced the study of genomic and the latest advances in technology to treat chronic disease, has stated, “We'll soon use our smartphone to monitor our vital signs and chronic conditions” (TED, 2010). Among the features that smartphones possess is the ability to run third-party applications, better known as apps. Smartphones have changed the world of medicine with apps for fitness, nutrition, health and wellness. Patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions now have smartphone apps designed to monitor their vital signs in order to better keep those medical conditions under control. Patients with diabetes can find apps for carbohydrate counting. There are ringtone reminders for when it's time to check glucose levels. Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) now have available to them a system which is programmed to collect patient data in order to track their weight (weight changes quickly with fluid load), blood oxygenation, medication adherence, and activities of daily living ( New Media Medicine, 2011), and transmit it to a website where it is reviewed by a physician. The system also can transmit data from a scale and blood pressure cuff. Smartphone technology was designed not just for patients: doctors are now able to use their smartphones for diagnoses, reference and for keeping electronic medical records. An app called...
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