It’s not that you’re a hypochondriac. You want peace of mind, that’s all. The thing is, needing reassurance doesn’t warrant rushing to the hospital. Isn’t it time you could check the status of your health from home?
There are already ground-breaking gadgets that help keep your health and fitness in check, from apps like Apple’s Health App that measures your heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol, to problem-specific apps such as PeriCoach (bladder problem), BG Monitor (diabetes) and Symple (headaches and shoulder pain). There are also apps (such as iTriage, HealthTap and Dr Now) that put you in touch with doctors for online analysis. But if you want to screen for a specific disease, or are looking for clinical accuracy when measuring an existing condition, you usually have to physically see your doctor.
Judging by the latest advancements in self-monitoring kits, that’s an option you may only have to take up in the case of an emergency. With the strain on our healthcare system, it stands to reason that patients taking their own tests, instead of sending them off to a laboratory, can save both time and money.
It could even save lives: “The evidence shows that greater use of self-monitoring offers clinical and patient benefit and, over time, is likely to result in reductions in heart attacks and strokes,” says Professor Carole Longson, the Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director of The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
So whether you have a minor health concern health niggle or a serious condition that needs monitoring, there’s a gadget out there that comes with a piece of mind warranty. Here’s just a few examples of tech that can help you monitor your health at home…
A portable handheld device that needs a single drop of blood, which is then streamed past lasers, and a few minutes later you have a diagnosis, from simple colds and flu to more serious ailments such as HIV. The Reusable Hand-held Electrolyte And Lab Technology for Humans (rHealth) comes with a vital signs monitoring patch you can wear and get updates on your breathing, heart rate and body temperature sent straight to your smartphone. If that sounds like space age technology, it is. For now, it’s being developed by the DNA Medicine Institute in conjunction with NASA to provide medical care for astronauts, but the plan is to make it available for customers on Earth by next year.
The five most common tests run in labs are: testosterone, vitamin D, flu, fertility and inflammation. And those are exactly what you can test for using the ‘lab in a box’ Cue device, which comes with customised cartridges. These analyse your sample (saliva, nasal swab or drop of blood, depending on what you’re testing for) and sends its findings (as well as personalised health and lifestyle tips) to your phone.
For people on warfarin, the main concerns are generally; what is my INR level, am I in my therapeutic range, am I at risk of a bleed or clot? They also have to take regular (often costly) trips to the clinic to have their INR measured. The CoaguChek XS System tests the INR (measure of how long it takes the blood to clot) of a person taking warfarin and can be used at home, at work, on your travels – pretty much anywhere you need to use it Plus you get the results you need within a minute. If things don’t look right, you can call your doctor or nurse with precise information and they amend your dose (self-testing), or some people progress to adjust their own dose themselves (self-managing). Updates are expected with connectivity to the clinic via a separate App in the pipeline. A welcome gift for anyone who doesn’t want to see the inside of a hospital unless they absolutely have to…
Considering 80% of kids have an ear infection by the age of 3, it’s worth checking how your little one’s ears are doing. Instead of booking an appointment at the clinic, simply attach the device to your phone and let it record the inside of the ear. The information goes for a remote clinical assessment, and you get results and, should it be required, a prescription sent straight to your phone.
Is it possible to detect Alzheimer’s before its onset? Or even prevent cognitive decline? This five-minute web-based test consisting of visual exercises utilises the latest eye tracking technology to assess recognition memory and abnormalities in your hippocampus, the part of your brain that deals with long-term memories and spatial navigation. If the results place you in high risk, Neurotrack will provide the necessary steps you can take to preserve and even improve your cognitive status.
The makers of Google Glass have created a contact lens that uses processing chips and a glucose sensor to detect glucose levels in the wearer’s tears. For sufferers of diabetes, who have to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels, this bionic sensor is nothing short of revolutionary. The lenses, which are painless and easy to remove, will soon come with an LED light that changes colour to indicate whether glucose level is too high or too low.
So there you have it – just a few of the ways you can take back control and monitor your health at home. No hospitals required.