Technology – really what it can mean to our lives – is amazing. There are things happening in the field of healthcare every day using technology to make our lives and health better.
Yet another highly anticipated technological wave of the future is poised to make a difference in how our doctors diagnose and treat our health conditions and it is called geomedicine.
What’s geomedicine, you might be asking. Geomedicine includes the technology of healthcare devices that utilize a GPS bluetooth tracker system, collecting data which is entered into what is known as a geographic information system (GIS). The data collection, hardware and software of the GIS will determine environmental factors affecting health. Many devices using GIS are currently in development, with plans for FDA approval and clinical trials in the not too distant future.
Geomedicine & Our Senior Loved Ones
Geomedicine will utilize applications that incorporate geotracking of our location and surroundings to learn about the environmental factors that contribute to making us sick. Using this information, our doctors can individually tailor a treatment plan to the toxins, air quality and other dangers in our daily environments.
Environmental tracking of our daily places and their associated health risks has been called “another vital sign” by epidemiologists.
Disease hot spots can be monitored and analyzed, with the data trended to benefit those in the area.
Healthcare providers can use the GPS locators to find resources and agencies nearest to the senior and connect them with social services such as senior housing, senior care centers, and food banks.
The GPS locator will email health alerts when there is a threat in the locale of your senior such as air quality, pollen, inclement weather or other conditions which may negatively affect the particular disease being treated.
Geomedicine Innovations Currently in the Pipeline
- Asthma inhaler that has a GPS tracking device to alert the physician when and where the inhaler was used. What environmental factors determined the need for use of an inhaler such as agriculture, dust, construction, weather, air quality, etc.
- Flu tracker that locates areas with highest prevalence of flu.
- Monitors of air quality risk factors that could negatively impact COPD, asthma and other lung disease patients.
- Applications that determine toxin exposure associated with living in different places, your place history. It can track areas where a person spent more than two years of their life detailing exposure leading to health risks such as factory emissions, smog, and chemicals used in the local vicinity.
- Ability to determine your water quality and its effect on your health.
If where you travel, live and have lived can impact your health and that of your loved ones, would you want technology that tells you and your doctor?
What Will Geomedicine Mean for Medical Data Security?
As with so much of technology today, there are concerns associated with the security and privacy of health information generated by the GPS & GIS tracking. Many companies are deciding that, in order to move forward with development of these products, a guarantee of privacy must be achieved. Many have stated that no medical record data will be available using this technology. It will be up to each participant to determine what data is being shared and what will remain private. Addresses can be used but not sensitive data.
Will that be enough — or too restrictive?
Many are concerned that some private information gleaned from these devices could be used against the senior. Data could be sold to marketers who will inundate seniors with pressure to purchase certain products capitalizing on their health risks. Some fear that using this environmental exposure information could result in denial or termination of health insurance plans. That only scratches the surface of the issues that will most certainly be raised.
Technology innovation and the advances that result will continue to make improvements in the health outcomes of our senior loved ones. With the new technology will come added pressure to maintain the utmost security. We feel the benefits outweigh the risks and look forward to learning about more new technologies in the future and promise to keep you informed.
It is, after all, only the health of those we love!