Mobile health and big data for a fit and healthy life

Times are changing, from a society where every village/town/settlement had is own – well respected – doctor/physician/medicine man or maybe traditional healer, we’re shifting to a model where the ‘consumer’ owns his health. After the Google-ism where a patiënt searched for information about his health or disease, we are entering app-ism where a ‘patient’ owns and manages his own health.
Is this the end of traditional medicine business as we know it? Do we still need doctors or physicians? And can we really manage our health ourselves (thanks to digital apps and other support)?

The post physician era
This has been an evolution for more then 5 years know. We tend to turn to our PC or other connected device to search the internet for every information possible about the symptoms we’re showing. We’ve all done message boards and fora to connect with similar others and gain information on what to do and when. We’ve shared our experiences on sickness, birth, medicine and many other health relaxed issues.
Do you remember the reaction from physicians or other healthcare workers?
I do! Don’t trust the internet, it’s the bad and the ugly! You can better trust us, well trained and educated nurses, physicians, …. BUT as always the knowledge of many (=society) overpowers the knowledge of the individual. Off course many wrong things are being spread over the internet and it’s fora, but most of the time they were just testimonials of what happened in that situation. And every situation is different, but our medical/healthcare system isn’t developed for your individual case, it’s developed for an average case. Are you average?

The internet, and especially fora first and social media later, connected similar cases and shared knowledge. Maybe it’s time for the medical industry to recognize this and start working with this knowledge!

App-ism to gain control over your health.
With the mobile era up and running, a second disruption shocked the health business: health related apps. With your smartphone it’s easy to gain control over your primary health thanks to al kind of apps. Apps for your (healthy) meals, or apps which track your blood pressure, hart beat and body temperature, or apps who control your bodyspots, …
We’re gaining control over our health. Of course this generaties big data for us, as an individual, to use, but also for companies to use and learn from.
We could build a huge network in which we share this information and look for similar people. How do they react to certain medicine or disease? How can you learn from one another to prevent things to happen to you?
A lot of ground to be covered and data to be analyzed. But also the industry could learn from this big data, and generate custom made medicine and cures f.i.

What’s next?
A virtual physician? Who knows, but (mobile) health is the biggest revolution to happen in the next years!

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Posted in Flat Lifestyle
26 comments on “Mobile health and big data for a fit and healthy life
  1. Christophe says:

    As a great fan of gadgets I’m actually using the Jawbone Up on a daily base. I find it helpful especially as it monitors my sleep habits and wakes me up at the perfect moment in my sleep cycles.

    However, as these gadgets can help you to live a healthier life, I don’t think they will ever replace doctors and medical personnel as the human factor is completely neglected. A lot of the medical problems we know in our world cannot be solved by computer analysis alone.

    People tend to forget that gadgetry doesn’t solve everything and that living healthier begins with yourself ;-)!

  2. Dennis says:

    This is definitely something i would love to try since i’m a little of a fitnessfreak. Being the manager of your own health would make for a much healthier lifestyle.

    Even though i believe medical staff will always be a necessity for unforseen emergencies as mentioned by Christophe.

  3. Jesse ten Hoor says:

    Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is, of course, a good thing. In my opinion, people will only benefit from using apps (and other electronical devices) that assist them in making healthy decisions.

    In case of (severe) illness, however, this trends is a negative development for today’s society. Doctors all over the world have already warned for the effect that the internet has on price-conscious ‘consumers’. Costs for medical care will only increase, which means that everyone (even smart people that actually go the doctors when they are ill) will start paying much more than they did a few years ago.

  4. Sascha Boden says:

    First of all, doctors don´t have to be right just because they have a diploma. They were teached by another person whos knowledge is maybe not up to date anymore, they can not be perfect since the question about what is right and what is wrong is changing almost everyday in medicine. That´s why many doctors give wrong advise, because they are also just humans, and the internet can help many people better than they do. I would recommend to use both and then to decide. But do not lay your health into a doctor´s arms without being suspicious of him.
    I think the apps are a great thing, they can help you most of the times quicker and much more easier if you think sth. is wrong. So they can help doctors in one or the other way. If I see the overcrowded waiting rooms in a hospital I think it would be great for them to get some “help”. Then a big part of the people can look the stuff up on their own and maybe they end up with not having anything.
    Iam really looking forward to try out some apps for running by the way. Can you recommend any?

  5. Christine Hofstätter says:

    I really appreciate the development of such apps, as they can help us to get a good idea about our state of health. But we should be very careful with the usage of those apps. Nevertheless they can support us to get a feeling about our own body, if we have a health problem.

    Our health care system is structured in a very specific way, providing a lot of different medical specialists for each illness. Therefore many doctors are not able to analyse the general health state of a person and concentrate only on their main field of work. For me this seems to be a huge problem and the reason for many wrong diagnosis.

    In order to prevent wrong therapy everyone of us should have a good self-assessment about our state of health and possible problems. And that is where the internet and apps could provide a lot of information and experiences from other patients.

    I personally look forward to the development of such medical apps!

  6. pauwelsnick says:

    it’s a really attractive gadget. The iphone apps has already apps but they don’t work (heart rate). It will be nice for people who are busy with their health.

  7. Maud says:

    I think this innovation has a lot of advantages but also disadvantages. Everybody knows, a docter is also a human and can make mistakes, but do you trust everything what stands on the internet? NO!
    So it will be a good idea for some healthy aspect, such as a burn or if you are stung by a wesp. The app can create the steps what you can, but if you have a long term illnesss you can’t live only on the information on the internet and mobile phone.

    I would say that it gives an oppurtunity for losing weight or if you have small injuries!

  8. Some of this applications i used myself. But they aren’t so good. They don’t work perfectly because they forgot alot of things like pauwelsnick already said.

    I also think it is very dangerous to inform yourself on the internet when you are sick. Every person reacts different on a disease and every disease also has different symptoms. The dangerous things is that more diseases have the same symptoms and maybe you would choose the wrong disease and take the wrong medications.

    Thats why i would rather go to the doctor then inform myself on the internet.

  9. Mats Blankers says:

    I think it can save you time. You can search for help on the internet or on an app before you go to a doctor. It could be more useful that you could talk online with a specialist. Now you only get reactions from people who have or had the same symptoms. So it’s not very useful, reliable and it is very dangerous. You can feel the same things but it can be another disease. These kind of things do have to develop before you can use them instead of going to the doctor.

    Sporting apps like Nike+ are very good but they don’t give you any information about your health at the moment. They probably can improve these apps with other possibilities to measure your health. It has to be a combination of sport, nutrition, blood pressure, … I really think they have the knowledge to develop better apps.

  10. Alexander De Winter says:

    I don’t agree with people who think this is the future. Your personal doctor has a file of you since you were born. If you are really sick go to a doctor. He is able to fix you just don’t relies on an app that doesn’t know you and can’t say what you really have. You can always check apps to get information but be aware that you can have something serious that an app just can’t see.

  11. adilkdg says:

    If i imagine myself in the shoe’s of a docter, i would say the same: “Dont trust the internet!”
    Docters are losing customers that really do relly 100% on the internet/apps when they are sick.
    In my case, when im sick, i ussually look up my synthomps on the internet and look up what i have. If its somthing serious i ussually go to the docter, if its not that bad, i just wait a couple days.

    What’s next?
    how about a app that has it all in one: blood pressure, hart beat and body temperature and at your next docter visit your general practitioner will have all the information thanks to the app.
    i think it will go more this direction.

    • why ging to the doctor….your mobile device is sending the data to your doctor…. when the blood pressure is too high, the heart beat to low and the body temperature too high, your doctor will give you a call or a mail to tell you, you have to see him….
      probably this is the future.

  12. Nicholas Bellon says:

    The change from visiting a doctor to doing individual research on the internet and apps is a well known phenomenon. I do think that this shift has got more impact on the USA than for instance Europe. Why so? Because the costs of a consultation with an American doctor are significantly higher in comparison with the rest of the world. They will see their income decrease the most as people are being aware of this change.

  13. Beatriz Polo says:

    For the time being, i’ve seen loads of apps that “help” you with your health, but i haven’t seen any app from a serious and well-known health company that i can really trust in. I don’t think that medical treatment can be replaced with a simple app, you need the advice of a professional to start treating yourself. Anyway, for simple things such as colds, or throat ache it would be helpfull because its not worth going to the doctor for suck a little thing that can be fixed at home.

  14. Julien Garnier says:

    true, all depend the kind of state where you are living in.
    Europe is mostly composed by wellfare states. Prices for a consultation are not so excessives and you are refound by your health security.
    Nevertheless, still a lot of persons use those websites and other forums in order to know if something’s wrong with them or not.
    Those websites created a new kind of persons; i’ll call them “Virtuals hypochondriacs”. They spend hours and hours looking on the internet, the next disease they’ll pretend to have. Actually, that’s a mental disease, the problem is that this disease is becoming stronger and stronger with all the sh*t we can read on the internet.
    So is that a good thing ? a bad thing? I think it’s just both. That will never replace a real doctor, that can also help you with your illness but i’m not really confident in that kind of sites…

  15. Jassin Uddin says:

    I do not agree with the article, because I think there is nobody better to judge your health than an human educated being like a doctor or a shrink. Ok, doctor’s aren’t always right but you can also visit several doctors for second opinions. After all, the endless world of diseases is too large to engage with social media cures.

  16. Shahin Koobasi says:

    If I’m sick or something like that I always search on google for symptomes and solutions. But afterwards I’ll see my MD. I just want to check before I see a real doctor.
    about medical apps, they can be helpful but not all apps are reliable.

  17. Bart Van Bosch says:

    Interesting article and really recognizable too! Anyway, if I had to choose between a doctor or the Internet, my choice goes for the educated person with all the experience. It’s about my health… I’m not going to trust on an online article whether it’s trustworthy or not. A smart thing to do is first to consult the Internet and then go to a doctor when you’re not sure about something.
    About the application… I think technology isn’t that cheap so why make an app for $2? That’s why I don’t trust those apps completely. What could such an app do/say? “Hey Bart, it’s cold outside so you better take your vitamins and wear something warm!” ? No thanks, no apps about my health for me.

  18. First let me say that you should never search the web for any complaints at all. If I should believe the Internet I have a hundred diseases right now. I have searched the web in the past and then you panic because you think you got something bad but when you go to a REAL doctor he will tell you your just fine, in most cases :).
    So an online doctor? That’s a no for me.

  19. Geoff Hendrickx says:

    When I’m sick or something like that I want to know what’s wrong with me. So I start to search on Google for the same symptoms and maybe there are solutions. This way is not always effective because afterwards when I go on consultation I have something totally different then when I looked it up. Some mobile apps can be helpful but I don’t prefer that. It seems there will be no online doctors for me in the near future.

  20. I prefer my offline doctor than an online one! Like all the people above said, everyone reacts differently. And after all, if you need medicines you’ll need a prescription!

  21. It’s an interesting article that leads to a lot of debat. I recognize myself in some parts of this article. When I’m feeling sick the first thing I do is checking the internet for symptoms. But that doesn’t mean I’m staying away from the doctor. As far as the health app goes, it’s a big no-no for me. I understand that it could have a positive influence on a person’s life but then we are talking about daily things like eating healthy food, getting enough exercise. When it’s about life changing decisions/problems I think it’s still the best idea to turn to a doctor. He has a file of you from when you were young and every person needs to be treated differently. You can use the apps for gaining extra information or tips.
    In a few weeks I’ll go back to the gym to start my fitness schedule and maybe I’ll take a look at those apps. An app that controls my blood pressure and measures my heart beat sounds good to me!

  22. Alina says:

    We all look through the Internet to gather information about our health when we think we are ill. And now there are apps that make it possible to find how to cure our illness. But we should be careful with these apps. I would think and hope the information in these apps is provided by specialists. In many cases the information is correct but we can’t live without meeting the doctor for real. He/she is the only one who can see and feel the human body if there is really something wrong. So, mobile health has also disadvantages.
    Te best way to use mobile health in my opinion, is for example losing weight.

  23. Sabrina R says:

    Really, we whould feel responsible for our own health and own it.

    However, I agree with a lot of people here: Physicians are experts in their area and cannot be replaced by Goolge (although search engines and forums may be an option to get a first idea). The human body is too complex and individual (not average!!) to be analysed via the internet or mobile devices.

    But Apps…
    …certainly will support the doctor patient relationship in the future (trough exchanging data about incidences and status such as migraine attacks or too high blood pressure…)
    …PLUS they have the potiential to improve patients` compliance on drugs (e.g. pill reminders for contraceptives or chronicle disease medications)

  24. Manuel Frey says:

    It’s not a big surprise that mobile health technologies grew fast lately, because I think that’s something what people really need and will use in future. I also have to admit the first thing I do when I don´t feel well, I “google” my symptoms. Thus this app is a good opportunity for me. Especially when I think of the crowded waiting rooms and stressed out doctors there is a real need for mobile healthcare.

    But I do also see the risks of this app. It can lead to wrong choices of medications since many diseases have similar symptoms. However investing in health care is always a good choice.

  25. Mat Kappeler says:

    I guess this will be a step between. I belief that our health will be in future controlled by some implemented chips, which will inform us about our health situation. But I still belief that we need in serious cases or accidents the real doctors as we have them now.
    But for the daily health the chip will give use some useful information; they will let us know if we need some Vitamins etc.

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