We Are Tracking You

We Are Tracking You

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

By now you should not be surprised to know that all of your internet and phone use is being tracked by a multitude of companies for various reasons. But you have (or should) come to expect that. This has not been a secret for many years now.

But what about your medical conditions? Do you think that ‘wearables’ are a good thing or bad thing? There has been an explosion in this market, ranging from simple fashionable pedometers to high-tech watches and smart phone apps. Your cell phone, smart watch, and pedometers are gathering a plethora of information regarding your daily habits: how much you sit, sleep, eat, walk, run, etc. There is also an on-going incentive by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for physicians to monitor your health remotely. Things like blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, weight, and physical activity are starting to be monitored through a program called ‘remote patient monitoring’. The data generated through these wireless devices is automatically transmitted to your electronic chart at your physician’s office. The data is then evaluated for any critical values by either the medical records program, a nurse, or your physician. While only a small amount of practices are currently using this technology, the push is on to grow this program.

The benefits of a program like this are multiple. First of all, it can help to improve care for those who are unable to come to the physician’s office for regular follow ups; such as the elderly or those who live in rural areas. For example, it may allow for better tracking of a diabetic’s blood sugar to figure out which treatment regimen will be best. Or, it can track your response to a blood pressure medication to see if the dosage needs to be adjusted. There is also the theory that monitoring this data remotely will help to prevent the progression of disease and reduce hospital stays. For example, as illustrated in a recent article in Medical Economics, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is using remote monitoring to monitor patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) in effort to prevent exacerbations of the condition which can lead to hospitalization or death.

Is this good, preventative medicine or an invasion of privacy? If you do not agree to daily monitoring, will your health insurance premiums rise or will you possibly even be denied coverage? These questions remain to be answered.

If you are concerned about the privacy of your personal health, I have one simple recommendation: Don’t get sick. Take good care of yourself. A lot of the chronic disease processes that I am referring to can either be prevented or mitigated via a healthy lifestyle. Take care of yourself now because you may not like the options later…..

Citations

  • Evenson KR, Goto MM, Furberg RD. Systematic review of the validity and reliability of consumer-wearable activity trackers. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015 Dec 18;12:159. PubMed PMID: 26684758

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