Home-based health systems are poised to become a big part of our lives in the future, with several high profile tech and home automation companies prepping or rumored to be prepping products. But what is sometimes forgotten is the real potential these systems have to improve the lives and healthcare of the elderly and others who have a tough time traveling to the doctor’s office.
What the current home healthcare systems and wearables lack are the real tools used by doctors. Most wearable devices record heart rate and a few take blood pressure, but that is a far cry from the information a doctor can obtain simply by listening to a patient’s breathing patterns. “Diagnosing a lot of diseases via tele-health has turned very much so into a Sherlock Holmes guessing game. It shouldn’t need to be so hard” said Dr. Myla of InstaMD, a startup company that is using technology to track the vital signs of patients from their home. “Tele-health as it stands today is just glorified video conferencing. Doctors can connect to their clients via a video stream, but not much else is offered to them. InstaMD allows client to share analytics real-time whenever they want so long as an internet connection and a computer is available to be paired with the InstaMD system. Our system is changing the tele-health into a truly interactive, collaborative experience for clients and doctors.”
InstaMD is currently funding on IndieGoGo and hopes to bring actual doctor’s tools into your home. First up is the most iconic of doctor’s tools, the stethoscope. The over–the-ear headphones connect to any stethoscope and record the patient’s heart, lung, or gastrointestinal sounds. Those vitals are then passed on to a healthcare provider who can listen to them and provide advice. After the stethoscope, the plan is to bring along other medical monitoring devices through the use of attachments.
Potentially, this could positively affect both patient care and doctor availability. With more consistent vital monitoring, the elderly and handicapped can stay at home and have their vitals checked without time consuming and potentially dangerous trips to the healthcare facility. Meanwhile, the doctor can see more patients in a shorter amount of time and can therefore lower his or her prices thanks to the economy of scale.
It isn’t just for the elderly and handicapped, of course. Anyone can use it and will benefit from regular medical advice from a professional. Even medical issues that necessitate a visit to the doctor could potentially benefit from the shorter lines that result from to regular checkups being done through InstaMD’s system.
While getting checked out by a medical professional is a pain for most of us, it is an outright ordeal for some. The elderly risk a fall on the way, essentially putting their health at risk in order to check on their health. The handicapped have to deal with cities that are often not handicapped accessible, despite what the laws on the books say. Telehealth care schemes look to take that risk away but reports say that its deployment and advancement is still too slow.
Grandma might not share her status on Facebook, she might not understand why anyone would want a heart rate monitor on their phone, but she will recognize a stethoscope. InstaMD also plans to have simple to understand apps on mobile and PCs so even tech Luddites without a smartphone can use InstaMD.
The system will allow patents to share and store their recordings, so they can be compared to previous tests. If a patient is privacy minded, he or she can of course delete the files instead of sharing them.
But sharing them with your medical professional is more or less point, and they seem to be striving to make that as easy as possible. InstaMD’s software, of course, has video conferencing, so the doctor can not only hear the patient but see him or her as well. If a follow-up is needed, the patient and doctor can figure out an appointment time using the same screen functionality.
As a bonus, when not connected to a stethoscope, the headphones work as regular headphones.
InstaMD is looking to raise $60,000 by June 19th. Even though they are on IndieGoGo, InstaMD chose to go with Fixed Funding, meaning they have to hit their goal for any donations to count. Currently, $85 gets you the basic package, but $111 will get you a bundle that will cost $88 more when it retails.
InstaMD has the potential to not only cut out superfluous visits to the doctor’s office, but it also has the potential to elongate and improve our lives – and that might be something truly worth funding.