The rise in e– healthcare in the UK is allowing healthcare professionals and patients to use digital technology to access, support and track health related information. Digital technology is seen to empower patients and carers by giving them control over their own health. One example of this is the introduction of mobile health apps from the National Health Service (NHS) which help patients stop smoking or lose weight which can be installed either on a mobile phone or tablet.
Further to this there has been a growing trend for wireless fitness tracker products such as Fitbit and Jawbone. These products collect data on the user when worn such as steps walked and sleeping patterns which the user can access via an app on their phone or online via a website to assess their health.
However tech companies are going one step further and proposing to place biometric technology within people. The idea is that sensors within the body could be used to call the police if you are injured, regulate your temperature and control the sound and lights in your house. The idea is that these sensors could be swallowed and placed in the blood or alternatively injected and or inserted under the skin. In scenes reminiscent of the Six Million Dollar Man, biometric technology could be used to heal and defend the body from viruses therein making the subject healthier and stronger. There has been an increasing move in the medical world into bionics as seen with the recent development of a modular prosthetic limb at Johns Hopkins University which is one of the most advanced bionic arms ever created.
In the UK internal tech has arrived via Proteus Digital Health which has partnered with the UK government and the NHS to provide state of the art monitoring services for patients with chronic illnesses. Proteus Digital Health is an online monitoring tool which monitors a patients adherence to long term medication. This software operates in conjunction with sensors stored inside medication and a patch worn on the patient's stomach. Together these can detect whether or not the medication is being taken by the patient.
However concerns are being raised as to where this data is being stored and how it is being protected. At present many smartphones have health apps which monitor you depending on the data that is inputted, such data can range from steps taken to your reproductive cycle. Such data as the latter is highly sensitive and extremely personal. Issues stem from the fact that wearable tech is also being made contactless which again adds to the concern about data protection and potential data theft. The more data that is being put out their about people the easier it is impersonate them. Further to this wearable tech is being designed to link in with your smartphone, tablet and computer therein opening up a world of opportunities for possible hacking and data breaches.