A New Frontier

Healthcare Meets the Age of the Connected Self

David Baker

Instant Connection

The marriage of healthcare and technology is poised to completely change the landscape of the health and wellness industry thanks to smart devices and wearables.

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Healthcare is constantly evolving to suit the needs of our society. While to me, the pace often feels glacial—I blame my robotics background and race car driving hobbies—progress is being made: better services, better facilities, and now, better devices. We’re entering the decade of connectivity and with that will come more individualized care and the chance to entirely reshape the healthcare system as we know it.

In the old days, your family doctor would pull a manila folder out of a cabinet with your information scribbled in it from the various visits you had over the years, with medical staff given just minutes to review it and then assess your current condition. The system was full of holes compounded by the exponential growth of available drugs and treatments.

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Next came the dawn of the computer age and an accelerated evolution: now the databases were digital, searchable, and we took one step closer to individualized care. It didn’t happen overnight though—the healthcare industry’s existing silos and regulatory hurdles stymied progress. Then there were the logistical challenges—funding the implementation of new systems, finding bandwidth for hospitals and individual care providers to learn and adopt new technology, and then the task of keeping all of this new, individualized data safe.

However, I’m more optimistic than ever as we move into the twenties. We’ve worked through much of the red tape and thanks to the powerful micro computers in our pockets, care is truly becoming personalized. Accepted universal medical standards such as body temperature, blood pressure, and BMI are being revisited in light of the highly specific, individualized data that a smartphone can provide. The days of measuring patients against a national average, or prescribing medication based on outdated notes in a manila folder are over. In fact, technology is already enabling us to take things one step farther: not only can the micro computers in our pockets monitor us, they can also learn our norms, and report any irregularities.

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What does this mean? That the evolution of modern healthcare has only just begun. Due to advances in smart devices and wearables, for the first time, patients can experience more stability and what we call in the medical field: homeostasis. They’re no longer suffering from the highs and lows of blood sugar levels, hot flashes, nausea, allergens, and more. Thanks to its hyper-individualized nature, wearable tech is at the forefront of this revolution, and monitoring biomarkers is just the beginning. The next step is for wearables to become proactive. At Loft, we have a passion for designing wearables that go beyond sensing and tracking the rhythms of the body to provide interventions when necessary. We work with partners to develop devices that go as far as delivering micropulses, heating and cooling, and more. We’re imagining a world where patients can go beyond feeling “ok” to feeling better than average. And it’s not far away...

The age of the connected self is here and with it, the dawn of a new era for individualized, proactive healthcare.

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