Appeared only a few years ago, in 2002, smart and connected objects are in the process of subverting our lives. These objects, equipped with sensors and means of transmitting their observations via the Internet, gradually invade our environment. Starting from the simple smartphone to the connected toothbrush, there are currently 20 million Internet objects. Some of these objects are only gadgets but others are quite elaborate and have a real utility. In particular with regard to the management of several health problems. Understanding their functioning, their usefulness, their future but also exploring their limit seem interesting. Indeed, e-health is a phenomenon of society more and more omnipresent and which raises many questions and issues.
What is e-health and how does it work
In the field of health, a connected object generally speaking allows us to measure and obtain the results of biological or physiological constants of our body. This procedure is commonly called the « self-quantified » : this may include, for example, blood pressure, respiratory rate, blood sugar level, but also weight gain, time and quality of sleep, etc. Most connected objects in health field, work in the same way: the object is equipped with a chip or a sensor connected to the Internet. The user or patient can then have access to its various parameters in real time on different media such as its smartphone, tablet, computer. The data collected by the object can also be shared with healthcare professionals, doctors, members of the patient’s entourage or else, still via the Internet connection of the chip.
Crédits Photo: Shutterstock
We can distinguish two types of smart objects: connected medical devices that track a vital parameter, especially in the context of chronic diseases or the prevention of proven risk. But we can also find the so-called well-being objects that proposing a follow-up of the physical activity, the weight and the sleep. To give some example, we find on the market of smart “sanitary” objects, models of blood pressure monitor that allow the patient to share his blood pressure data with his general practitioner. Or, an intelligent pillbox, which comes in the form of a simple medicine box that lights up and sends an alert signal (sound, SMS …) if you forget to take your treatment.
For the future ?
This sector has spectacular advances for us. An American company, for example, works on a capsule that swallows “is positioned in the stomach without being digested and detects whether the treatment has been taken”, so all patients who forget their treatment are warned. The Google company is currently working on a contact lens project for diabetics, measuring glucose levels in their tears, to monitor their blood sugar levels. They would make less fainting fit. The company Apple would be studying a watch that “listens” the sound emitted by the blood to spot the first signs of a myocardial infarction. The patient would thus be taken care quickly which would greatly increase his chances of survival.
Crédits Photo: GOOGLE
From curative to preventive
All these new technologies integrated into the medical and health sector have given birth to a new concept: the e-health and the m-health. The e-health includes all health-related practices using new technologies or the Internet. The m-health is a sub-category of e-health, it is an abbreviation for mobile health, used for the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices. Some experts speak of a real revolution and an unprecedented upheaval in the medical field. Indeed, the democratization of smart objects and health applications will bring with it a whole new approach to medicine as well as any new practices
Besides raising awareness, these objects make it possible to adjust people’s behaviors in a suitable way, and to prevent probable risks. Moreover, as the website of the connected health guide reminds us, these various connected devices are either enriched with automatic personalized advice, coachings, or allow a regular accompaniment by a health professional, which increases the awareness, but above all accompanies the patient in his will to modify his hygiene of life
Status of collected data
In spite of attempts to increase the protection of the data collected by the connected objects, at the present time, all these data collected “have no status nowadays” as explained in the connected- health guide. And on their status we can only make assumptions, to take with much precaution therefore and discernment. Logically, if we compare the functioning of smart objects in the health domain with other objects that also collect data, we can assume that these data which indirectly represent the person, belong to him. Indeed, these data are hosted and stored on secure Clouds, only the individual has theoretically access to his own data. However no one has the absolute certainty and the status of the data collected by the smarts objects remains uncertain. This interrogation represent a real issue for the consumers, and maybe the biggest limit of this new trend.
It is impossible to be exhaustive when it comes to the field of e-health and m-health : the boundaries between the two are blurred, the uses still in gestation, and the numerous projects in progress merely draw the future of a very wide and multifaceted sector. Indeed, by 2020, it is estimated that not less than 80 billion the number of connected objects will be used throughout the world, 60% of which will be linked with health. A connected health, which for certains will allow a more personalized, predictive, participative and preventive medicine, but for others draws a dark future in the field of health. But the future of health is mostly, and above all, enormous upheaval, beneficial or not. Indeed, the entire health chain will be shake up and subvert : from the patient to the hospitals, from ambulatory medicine to the management of addiction, from city medicine to medical desertification. It will subvert as much the daily life of each one as the practice of the professions of health.