LegalZoom published Wearable Health Technology: Health Care Dream or Privacy Nightmare, on the heels of Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch. The article makes the point that the Apple Watch is just a stepping stone to future medicine:
The future of medicine isn’t Obamacare; it’s the movement from physical medicine, to online health (telemedicine), to mobile care (m-health), to wearable health tech, and ultimately, to nanotechnology and implantable medicine.
Physical medicine is the healthcare our parents knew when they grew up. You called your doctor and went in for a checkup, or went to the hospital for surgery or emergency care. This was a reversal over our grandparents’ times, when doctors (mostly male) came with their black bags for house-calls.
With the expansion of online technology and the corresponding decrease in economic incentives for the private practice of medicine, many physicians have moved into telemedicine (also known as telehealth). Telemedicine is exploding, with online sites providing everything from tele-dermatology to tele-psychiatry.
Mobile health is simply an extension of telehealth. You can now visit your physician through your mobile phone and send data that will generate a diagnosis, treatment plan, or prescription. Your doctor might just be an app. Some of these health apps are regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medical devices in a new regulatory category known as mobile medical apps. Others simply track health data, and these are not considered medical devices. Either way, Star Trek is here; “phone technology continues to move in the ‘tricorder’ direction, with no end in sight.”
Wearable heath tech is the next phase. Here, we incorporate sensors and other health technology into our clothing (such as a wristband or sneaker), or our jewelry (such as a watch), and use this to monitor various health metrics. This is where we are poised with the Apple Watch.
We still have medical offices, but soon, you won’t visit your doctor; instead, you’ll be wearing your “doctor….”
We’re redrawing the map of what it means to be human, and wearing our health data on our sleeves.