“Social” Devices Are Blending Social and Medical Technologies

Social devices can share our health information with doctors and medical professionalsImagine a world where an adhesive strip applied to your skin can monitor your physiological state and alert you or others when specific changes occur.  Parents could monitor their kids playing outside and know when they might be overheating or dehydrated, caretakers of elderly family members who live alone could be alerted if heart rate or respiratory changes occur,  doctors can be alerted if patients forget to take their medications.

Believe it or not, we’re closer to these social medical devices than you might think.  NPR is reporting that companies like West Wireless Health Institute are promoting products that bridge the gap between personal medical devices and a new breed of social devices. These devices not only monitor, but share the information via wireless or RF technologies.

Other companies like Proteus Biomedical are designing smart pills that release chemicals into your body that work with the high-tech bandage to signal whether or not medication has been taken. These “inside-out” medications would also be useful in reporting blood chemistry levels such as blood glucose, a key metric measured by those with Diabetes.

Questions remain, however, as to whether these devices fall under the purview of the FCC or the FDA and how privacy concerns will be addressed to ensure patient confidentiality.

To read the entire article or listen to it online, visit NPR’s All Things Considered page.

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