One step further towards smartphone-based health apps becoming autonomous

It’s my contention that telehealth, or whatever it is called then, will only start to have a really significant impact on reducing the burden on caregivers when the technology begins to move from decision support to decision taking; only then will clinicians be able to disengage from needing to be involved in every decision regarding a patient’s treatment and focus on those decisions requiring significant skill and judgement. Sure there are all sorts of genuine hurdles in the way like ensuring that the decision-making process is not compromised by other genuine – or rogue – processes taking place on whatever the smartphones is called in the future that is processing and transmitting information, and there have been several recent warnings on malicious hacking of medical devices, so it won’t be happening any time soon. However, given the way so many medical processes that began with manual involvement have moved steadily towards automation, from ECG to Point-Of-Care-Testing, hopefully one day these problems will be solved.

One pointer, reported in iMedicalApps, is three trials currently underway using smartphones to control artificial pancreases to manage diabetes. The smartphones in this case are completely locked down and are only used for the decision-taking process around closed-loop insulin delivery. Nevertheless it’s a step.

When mHealth and telehealth become ‘just healthcare’ (US)

GovernmentHealthIT reports that, speaking yesterday during the first day of the World Congress on mHealth and Telehealth in Boston, US, Jonah J. Czerwinski said Veterans Affairs (VA) had managed the health of some 500,000 people using telehealth in 2012.  He expects this to rise to over 600,000 this year.  He is senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where he leads the VA Center for Innovation.  That’s some endorsement for telehealth!

“It’s connected healthcare – no ‘tele-,’ no ‘m-,'” he is reported to have told the audience: “This is just healthcare.”

Picking up on the topic of automating telehealth monitoring, he also described how the VitaLink home monitoring system, one of the VA’s more promising telehealth projects, has been developed by the VA from algorithms used in the mining industry to detect when drill bits embedded deep in the earth were stressed out and ready to fail.