Last week, I attended the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, which showcases the best of breed in health and supporting technology.
New, improved and emerging technology was on show and it was good to know that my vision for health technology is safely imbued in what is out there to support it.
There were hundreds of booths and I strategically made my way around those I thought could bring the most value to what we are doing, and plan to do, in Jamaica.
I happened to be walking by a large display that looked somewhat like a regular home complete with bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. My attention was brought to the fact that it was being touted as the 'i-home'. My interest was piqued and so I stopped for the demonstration.
Though a very simple concept, the i-home or intelligent home was truly the future of connected healthcare with a personal touch.
Existing technology, including those not generally considered health technology, is integrated to form an entire system of remote care management with access to a physician through telemedicine.
There is a solution within that system for each member of the family facing different concerns. The family consists of a woman in her 50s, her husband in his 60s, their pregnant daughter and a visiting relative. The mother is on medication for hypertension. The father is recuperating from surgery and the daughter is pregnant and very health-conscious. The visiting relative is diabetic.
Within this scenario, multiple devices from various sources work together to form a complete health access system.
The mother uses Amazon Alexa to get information on her medication and her condition. She uses an electronic pill dispenser that also alerts her through changes in colour if a pill is missed or due. In the bathroom she uses a smart mirror to connect to external sources of information. She also gets notifications about her husband's recovery process.
The husband uses a device attached to his torso to get his various health indices and a telemedicine platform to speak to his doctor about concerns, follow-ups and monitoring. His doctor has the option of using the online consult to determine whether a face-to-face is necessary.
The telemedicine platform allows him to move the camera to take close-ups of areas of concern. E-prescriptions can be done and sent straight to the pharmacy, which can deliver the drugs.
The visiting family member is on insulin and also needs management in terms of diet and exercise. He uses remote care management tools to track several health indices, including his blood sugar levels. He also gets reminders from Alexa about his exercise or lack thereof, medication adherence and health tips.
The pregnant daughter also uses the remote care management tools to ensure that she remains healthy during the pregnancy and gets health information and meal options from an app.
These pages won't allow me to get into the details of all the technology used in the i-home but we can incorporate everyday technology into the health ecosystem to satisfy several health needs.
The i-home as a concept is simply a showcase of what we can do if we incorporate existing technology not limited to those specifically for health to improve access, treatment and care.
This is absolutely implementable in Jamaica. Our health technology systems, compared in modules, are more holistic than most others out there. It's important to note that our electronic medical record (EMR), that is now at the University Hospital of the West Indies and is currently being offered to medical practises, provides the foundation for remote care, as it anticipates all of these diagnostic devices, as plug-ins.
Our doctors will have better access to more timely and comprehensive data on the move, resulting in better and more efficient healthcare delivery and outcomes.
It just takes a little imagination to see what can be done with what we already have. A smartphone user is in a position to work with his/her doctor to transform his/her health as virtual access becomes a norm. I have no doubt that the i-home concept in Jamaica will become as common as jerked chicken one day.
Published: Sunday | March 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM Doug Halsall