Medical technology is evolving at an almost unimaginable rate. Just look around you at all the devices people are wearing; it’s now common to see some kind of tracking device peeking out from every business suit and track suit alike. Plus there are apps and attachments galore for smartphones to help us track steps, miles, calories, heart rates, mental health status, and so much more.

And how about using your phone to take a photo of that suspected poison ivy that’s been bothering you? With the right app downloaded, you can process the image and have a diagnosis texted to you, all thanks to some fancy algorithm.

Between wearable devices and smartphones, what can we expect from this new wave of care-related technology? Well, as they say, knowledge is power, and the ability to generate our own medical data will arguably give consumers the power to make interactions with health care professionals more productive, efficient and collaborative.

Collective information

Even more exciting is the idea of collective information. Consider this: Aggregated medical data (the kind that comes from these sorts of devices) could help us better understand a condition or illness. This sounds like “big data,” but it is the kind that can help us be more proactive versus reactive. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re are on vacation and your receive a text alert notifying you that you’re in a high risk zone for allergies, your heart rate is elevated, and you are at risk for a severe asthma attack. With this kind of intervention, you could have suddenly found yourself in trouble and in need of the closest emergency room. Instead, you were able to grab the right meds and continue to enjoy your vacation, having averted possible disaster.

So the next big question is, who’s protecting this important data and where exactly can and will it go? There’s much to be determined but one thing is for certain: the power in health care is definitely coming to the people.

O’Neal is a consultant with Lockton Health Risk Solutions National Practice.

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