Mobile technology and healthcare

The past couple of decades our society has experienced a tremendous increase in the presence and use of digital technologies. Especially the widespread presence of the smartphone has highly impacted our daily lives. Smartphones allow us to access the internet, use a variety of apps, and connect to and communicate with people whenever and wherever we want.

Every year, the number of people using mobile devices is growing: currently 9 out of 10 people own a smartphone1

Today’s smartphones contain sensitive sensors. These sensors allow for example the estimation of a person’s location or can count the number of steps taken in a day. More and more people also make use of fitness trackers or other wearable devices such as smartwatches. These devices can help people monitor e.g. their sleep patterns, level of activity, or heart rate. Some people install telematics devices in their cars to monitor driving behaviour to get a premium discount from their insurer. The technologies that can perform these types of measurements are known as Remote Measurement Technologies (RMT). All these devices allow for continuous and sensitive data collection while people go through their daily lives. 

Changes in people’s health status may also change their behaviour and routines. For example, it is known that fatigue affects typing speed, which is a parameter that can be constantly monitored. These subtle changes can consequently be identified in the data unobtrusively captured with RMT, and may be indicative of a developing disease state, or its progression.

RMT therefore have the potential to monitor disease conditions with a high granularity and sensitivity in a real-life setting. Because of this, they might be able to improve the way that health status and disease progression are currently monitored. This would be a major improvement compared to the current process: monitoring is currently mainly performed via infrequent visits to doctor’s offices or hospitals. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), disease progression is mainly assessed via questionnaires and caretaker reports. RMT in combination with advanced analytics may provide a more sensitive and more personalized approach to measuring disease progression in these patients, almost in real-time. This should ultimately result in better care and could also help in developing better treatments against AD. 


References

1 Deloitte, 2017: US global mobile consumer trends, 2nd edition.