Some ‘patients’ – usually people with chronic condition who use health services as much as many use their local supermarket – are pushing for more, many techies are fiddling about with the emergency of tech-driven fitness, and the big companies [Apple, Alphabet/Novartis, Microsoft, Fitbit etc] know they’re on to something. And, not to be forgotten, the ever-increasing number of ‘Health hack’ conferences are popping up worldwide.
The demand is insatiable, and I’m delighted to see it’s finally happening.
Right now many of the consumer gadgets are just that – toys. They rarely have the capability or indeed the legal, regulatory, approval to go beyond incentives for a better lifestyle. None of them can really make health claims, but they’re all hovering around the field.
From social competitiveness with Nike Fuel points, peer-pressure rankings from the number of paces you’ve walked, pretty pictures of food you’re suppose to eat, they are however, building a platform to bolt on much more interesting and valuable clinical capability.
The bridge from taking a pulse to a good indicator of blood pressure – or glucose reading – is surely not all that far off.
Take the Apple Watch: Launched with enormous fanfare and Apple was keen to show off its ‘state of the art’ ‘top secret’ ‘health and fitness lab’ to accentuate what it saw as an important component of the wearable.
The bulging ceramic (or glass on the lower-cost model) back plate is rumoured to be technically capable of more than reading a pulse. Perhaps by the 2nd or 3rd generation, we could dare to hope that this back plate will do a heck of a lot more, including blood pressure readings (via PST). Now, whether they market it as blood pressure remains to be seen. I suspect ultimately it will depend on legal rather than technical decisions.