Your health typically is what happens between office visits. No matter whether you see your physician once a year or once a week or even once a day, most of your time will be spent away from the doctor’s office. And it can be difficult to accurately document what you experience so that you can report it to your doctor, whether the concern is a mental health issue or heart disease. A new spinoff from MIT called Ginger.io has a possible solution.
The concept is simple; the company has developed an app that runs on the patient’s smartphone. Running in the background, it keeps track of physical activity and communications patterns. It also requests input from the patient at various times with simple questions specific for their condition. This information can then be aggregated and analyzed using behavioral analytics using algorithms that the company has developed. This boils down the information so that significant details can be highlighted for physicians and caregivers. The system can also identify patients who are at risk, and send alerts to healthcare workers or caregivers or even directly to the patient.
The system is already being tested in studies with more than half of the top ten academic medical centers in the U.S., including University of California, Duke University, and University of Nebraska Medical Center. Programs include studies of patient mental health, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-operative recovery. Early results indicate that the system can identify patients in need of attention while reducing the number of unnecessary office visits. The smartphone is the device that does the monitoring, but it is easy to see how wearable components can augment — and perhaps eventually replace — the smartphone in the system.