Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 07, 2013

Healthcare Physicians Turn to Technology to Save Lives



For individuals plagued by certain illnesses such as asthma or anxiety, where attacks can come out of virtually thin air and reap disastrous results, a solution is desperately needed that can highlight the reasons behind the sudden affliction. After closely studying asthma for years, that is exactly what Epidemiologist David Van Sickle did through creating a next generation inhaler complete with a GPS sensor that could outline where a user is located in the world and then immediately send the crucial information to their doctor.

Van Sickle (yes folks, that is his real name and I agree there is some irony behind the fact that it contains the word “sick” and he has created something that could completely revolutionize the healthcare space) originally got to work on this solution back in 2006. Now, seven years later, it will be released on the market.

"The first prototypes were very ugly — like a coffee machine alongside of an inhaler," Van Sickle commented in a recent article featured on the York Daily Record website. He went to joke that his fellow peers thought the product was so awful looking at first that people could instantly feel stressed out to the point that it would cause an asthma attack, just from being forced to bring it everywhere they went.  

Since that time, this creation has come quite a long way and the revamped version boasts a much more compact Bluetooth-based device that can quickly propel key data in regards to a patient to a central Web depository that will then pinpoint on a map when and where patients needed their inhalers.  Last Spring, Rajan K. Merchant, the person in charge of the Woodland Clinic Medical Group outside Sacramento, Calif., helped patients become involved in a Asthmapolis trial and after testing it out, “called the device the first major advance since the advent of the anti-inflammatory steroid inhaler in the 1950s and one that could help patients better manage their disease,” the article revealed.

This intuitive inhaler is encompassed within a rapidly expanding vertical known as geomedicine, which seamlessly integrates geographic information system (GIS) software with clinical databases as way to improve the overall quality of life of humans throughout the globe.

In fact, Bill Davenhall, a healthcare manager at Esri, revealed in a piece featured on Information Week last year that consumers can even utilize GIS mapping to see what effect environmental conditions within the area they currently reside or grew up in have on their overall health.

However, since this idea is relatively new that means it still has tons of room to grow and at this time it is more useful to driving public health as opposed to clinical practice.

According to Estella Geraghty, MD, lead author of the outcomes disparities article and an assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at UC Davis, "It really has been useful in public health. It's a great tool for [disease] surveillance and for understanding the epidemiology of illness or environmental exposures. But the challenge is to use some of that data in the healthcare arena -- and I think there are ways to do it."




Edited by Rich Steeves




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