One of the very first cell phones I remember seeing was courtesy of the soap opera "General Hospital" when a main protagonist at the time, police chief Robert Scorpio, used a big clunky handset while on the trail of one of the many villains plaguing the fictional city of Port Charles. It was in the late 1970s, a few years after inventor Martin Cooper developed what was touted as a portable handset and which has evolved into today's smartphone.
Now, 40 years later, it's nearly impossible to look at those early "portable" phones and envision how they would morph into these powerful devices that slip into our pockets. Way back then, the big lure was the ability to make a call anywhere within distance of a wireless link. Today, you'd be hard pressed to find someone say mobile calling is the top reason they have a smartphone. More than likely, users will cite some app or productivity function as a prime use and feature.
Looking ahead and predicting what's to come is even harder than in the 1980s, given the rapid-fire development of technology. While it's not hard to predict that today's "fitness" app or mHealth monitoring device will expand well beyond today's heart rate and respiratory tracking tools, imagining two or three innovations beyond that can be more complex, as it requires completely rethinking healthcare approaches and strategy.
That's why an article at high50 caught my attention this week. The author explores where mHealth technology is headed, and it's the stuff of a good sci-fi flick. Among the developments mentioned are clothing that houses tiny microprocessors for tracking a body's sugar level, as well as other vital signs; a refrigerator that keeps track of what goes in, what goes out, and how that equates to nutrition and daily calorie intake; and a toilet that will provide a read out of hydration levels.
One innovation discussed that I've put on my wish list: A footwear app and shoe insole that promises to help keep tootsies warm and even helps your body posture.
One medical expert goes as far as saying that within 10 years, mobile technologies will completely transform healthcare provisioning as we currently know it. I don't think I'm going out on a thin limb when I say it may actually be less than a decade, given all we're seeing from giant tech players and healthcare innovators.
I'd love to hear what your predictions for mHealth are. What tools and tech do you expect to move into traditional healthcare treatment and diagnostic settings? Do you have big "Jetson" expectations or a wish list of new tech you're hoping will come about?
And in case you were wondering, I am no longer a "General Hospital" addict, mostly due to work, parenthood and the dozens of Android apps on my list to learn. But I did catch a recent storyline write-up and was amused to find that a character's duplicitous use of a smartphone was playing a starring role in the current dramatic saga of those living in Port Charles. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)