Today we have so many products available to use that can track our health: the Apple watch, Fit Bits etc, but are they of any use?
30 years ago, as a young child, I remember my parents returning from the local hospital having just visited one of my father’s close friends who had just had a heart attack. When I asked how old he was, the response was 36 years old. At the time, I felt that he was really old, but now I now realise that that is very young to have a heart attack. However in the 1980’s this was quite common.
In 2018, how many 30 year olds are having a heart attack? Evidence shows not as many as the 1980’s. So what has changed? People have become more health conscious following better quality lifestyles: smoking less, doing more exercise. In addition to this doctors have been more proactive in monitoring certain parameters in your blood, such as cholesterol levels. If problems have been identified, lifestyle changes have been reinforced and treatment has been started to prevent heart attacks. The effect of this has been to reduce the number of individuals suffering from heart problems. Now you are more likely to hear about the 70 year old with a heart problem rather than a 30 year old.
The point of me talking about this is that if you track your health you can identify a problem before it becomes a problem. Up until now your doctor may track your health on a 6-12 monthly basis. Now developments in technology mean we can track health parameters on a second by second basis. This now provides us with vast quantities of data which can be analysed and used to identify problems that may develop well into the future. As a result, changes can be made to your lifestyle to prevent or delay those problems from happening.
So which parameters should we be tracking? As doctors we can make decisions on your health with information on your blood pressure, pulse rate, blood sugar levels, temperature and blood parameters such as how your kidneys are functioning or your cholesterol levels. The list is endless as to what we can monitor. The key question is what can you, as the health focussed individual or patient, monitor accurately to assist your health professional make decisions on your health. The answer depends on what your health needs are and what your health professional can suggest that is available in the market to meet your needs.
This knowledge of the market is not widespread at the moment. Digital health is a disorganised mess of AI driven products, wearable devices and accessible services. What we hope to do at HealthAide.co is to bring some structure to the chaos of digital health so you and your health professional can identify which product is clinical grade (ie accurate) and most suitable for your health needs, based on scientific research and opinions that really matter.
Blog post written by Dr Khurram Akhter.
Khurram is an experienced primary care physician and a thought leader
in the field of digital health.