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Helping older adults live independently using mobile-health technology

oldcoupleHow much privacy would you be willing to give up to maintain your independence? If you're confused by the question, consider this Washington Post article discussing home-use medical devices that track behavior and vital signs in older adults to share with their doctors. Keeping tabs remotely could let an aging population stay in their homes longer.

From the piece:

Their medicine bottles will alert their doctor when they miss a dose. Pressure-sensing floor mats can sense when they have fallen or let caregivers know when a patient hasn’t showered for a while.

The devices often mean adding “sensor platforms in what have traditionally been protected spaces — your home, your office,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, [PhD,] chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Even something like a temperature sensor can be revealing . . . it can easily tell if you’re home.”

The effort also pushes traditional telemedicine, including video conferencing with your doctor, into a more intimate space.

But receiving such data from a patient can make it easier for doctors to monitor their health, said David Lindeman, [PhD,] a gerontologist and director for the Center for Technology and Aging. Also, he said, monitoring someone while they are in their natural environment rather than a clinical setting can also lead to more accurate diagnoses.

But with great data comes great responsibility to protect it. The article continues:

...widespread use of such technology can raise questions about whether patient’s personal details are being properly protected. More companies are entering the market that haven’t traditionally dealt with health information, said Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

It is also unclear how data breach, security and other laws apply to the growing ecosystem of new devices, and how companies will set their own standards to protect the influx of data.

Previously: Eat a carrot and exercise – or your iBird dies and Research shows remote weight loss interventions equally effective as face-to-face coaching programs
Photo by Martin

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