Archive for Health

New Media’s Role in Health 2.0

Here at Ideas For Good we believe that the convergence of new media technologies is altering the way in which users consume and process information. Today’s media consumers are relentlessly connected, presenting strong implications for how consumers of health information access, process, and retain health related knowledge.

New media’s role in ‘Health 2.0’ leverages exponentially growing technologies to personalize healthcare. Through increasing Internet connectivity, consumers are empowered to make more informed and sophisticated choices in relation to their health. This participatory model of the doctor-patient relationship, or the ‘patient–helper’, combined with new media technologies, enables the physician to provide a faster, cheaper, and more effective process of treatment than previously possible.

iPhone Diabetes Tester

This is evident in mobile app technology such as the iBGStar, a simple, ingenious device that attaches to an iPhone allowing patients to check their blood sugar levels. The free diabetes manager app also makes it possible to track and analyse medical data in real time, with the ability to send emergency alerts to the owner’s physician, enabling a quicker, and more personalized response to any issues.

This technology is not limited to diabetes, with a range of mobile apps utilizing the connected health model to assist in monitoring blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, weight, and even sexually transmitted diseases, although I’m not too comfortable with urinating on my phone just yet!

Combining these new media technologies with the virtualization of medical records allows doctors to effectively crowd source data in a way that was not previously possible. By aggregating patient data, doctors could compare a myriad of information across large amounts of patients such as treatments, dosage effectiveness, side effects, and symptoms all compiled over a time scale relatable to each patient.

Although a public health management system that allows these kind of capabilities may not be available for some time, sites such as Patients Like Me are already available. By facilitating in the tracking of patients health within the community, patients build a profile and can compare their health with other sufferers of the same disease. This goes well beyond the traditional use of a medical record moving the focus toward a proactive approach to health.

This participatory approach toward health does however have its’ drawbacks. one of those being an “epidemic of misinformation” whereby recipients of online health information are prone to outbreaks of ‘cyberchondria’ or becoming victims of ‘cyberquakery’ through unregulated information such as advertising being positioned as advice. The resounding response from medical authorities is overwhelmingly negative, however, their greatest concern is seen to be with the quality of the information being provided. With the correct use of new media technology, these ideas for good will provide a faster, cheaper, and more personalized strategy towards health.

Addicted To Technology: A Day Without My Smartphone

Smartphones have such a dramatic influence on how we go about our daily lives, they make basic tasks simpler and provide us with answers to life’s daily questions with ease. But with all this power are we becoming a slave to our devices? As part of one of my Ideas For Good health challenges, I recently spent a day without my phone just to make sure that I could in fact still live without it. This is a recount of my smartphone-less day.

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After relying on my smartphone for the last 5 or so years, I was somewhat anxious about switching it off and leaving it at home as I hurriedly made my way out the door toward the train station.

Destined to prove to myself that I do not in fact suffer from nomophobia, I pushed the thoughts of why I wasn’t listening to music on my walk out of mind and tried to distract my brain by taking a closer look at my surroundings; morning joggers, suit and tie types half dressed jumping into their cars, mothers kissing their kids goodbye as they drop them off at school.

I jump the train and spot a seat; my hand instinctively dives into my pocket. For a split second I panic thinking I’ve lost my phone before my conscious thought kicks in and reminds me of today’s blight.

I get to work and head for the conference room for the morning meeting. A few of my colleagues give a quick glance up from their portable screens and mumble a barely audible ‘good morning’. I find a seat and look around to see if anyone is up for sharing a story from the weekend, what I notice, and what I too would normally be doing, everyone is busy checking their emails, trying to get a head start on the day.

The meeting wraps and I take my barely legible notes back to my desk where I now have to double-hand the key deadlines for sales paperwork and client appointments that week into my Google calendar, again, something I would be able to do on the fly with my smartphone.

These trends continued throughout the day as I sat at my desk in order to not miss being contacted by potential clients. I had emails from clients telling me I was unreachable as my mobile is the first and sometimes only number I give as I am constantly out of the office.

Before heading home, I called into a friends place. Surprised by my unannounced visit she welcomed me in. I explained my challenge and she willfully turned her phone off so I didn’t feel left out. We shared some wine and sat on her balcony and talked.

A few hours went by and I realized that this is possibly the longest uninterrupted conversation I have had with anyone in an unfathomable amount of time. I began to wonder what a release from technology’s overwhelming grip could mean to the personal relationships in my life. Would I be a better friend? Or would I be left out? Disconnected from the online personalities that we all work so hard to maintain? Joseph Heller knows what I’m talking about.