Connected health: a medical breakthrough?

At the most recent CES in Las Vegas, January 2019, it was clear that the future of technology is medically oriented: the floor space dedicated to medical startups increased by 40% between 2014 and 2016. It makes sense! For generations, science fiction films have depicted a world where technology is omnipresent, notably allowing us to personally surveil our health. For many, however, a future where health is intimately linked to technology is a great risk in terms of personal data security.

This article gives an overview of the advantages and inconveniences of the new connected health phenomenon.

  • E-health: part of the « quantified self » (2) 

Despite being able to explain the world around us and use complex equations to explain incomprehensible phenomena, we can’t yet access our health status at an instant.

“Am I healthy? Should I see a doctor?”

We can solely answer these questions by going to the doctor. And yet we go only four times per year on average (3), often having to make an appointment weeks in advance.

Is four check ups per year enough? The answer of course depends on each individual. Nevertheless, there are now connected tools available to regularly monitor our health.

  • E-Health: peace of mind guarantee

Every day there are more people who require close, personalized health monitoring. This helps explain the emergence of the “silver economy”(4). The medical tools of tomorrow aim to simplify the interactions between medical personnel, the patients, and their loved ones. The expected benefits will alleviate overwhelmed medical personnel, reassure patients’ families and preserve patient autonomy.

  • E-Health: a doctor’s tool

The goal of connected health tools isn’t to diagnose or self-medicate, but to give a complete overview of the user’s vitals. Future doctor appointments will become more efficient when complemented by daily data, allowing for early disease detection, currently identified often too late. Doctors will be able to closely follow their patient’s health by receiving pertinent data in order to establish their diagnosis.

  • What about personal data security?

Many are sceptical about the security of their personal data. “Big data” in the medical field could mean huge advances, but medical ethics require legislative authorities to adapt to this new phenomenon before it can fully take form.

Organizations like ASIP Santé (Shared Healthcare Information Systems Agency) are mandated to ensure the security of your personal health data. Connected medical devices must respect strict conditions to guarantee user data security.

Once manufacturers of “wellness” connected tools breach the borders of the medical field, the question of data security will become an essential criteria for users.

(1) The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest annual exhibition dedicated to technological innovation.
“Quantified self” is a movement that consolidates the tools, principles and methods that allow each individual to collect, analyse and share their personal data.
According to a 2012 study of Global Assistance.
The “silver economy” gathers the products and services relating to the aging process and combats the loss of autonomy that can accompany old age.

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