Using Smartphones to Make Smarter Health Care Decisions

MAY 12, 2019
Mike Hennessy, Sr, Chairman and CEO
In 2011, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, PhD, delivered the keynote speech at the Transcatheter Therapeutics Meeting in San Francisco, California.

In his keynote, which Kaku titled “The Future of Mankind,” he described a world where society could be headed. He presented a future in which a person wakes up in the morning, heads into the bathroom, and urinates, and the toilet then analyzes the “specimen.” “Good morning,” the artificial intelligence (AI) smart toilet says as it ticks off a list of suggestions about fluids and vitamins that the human is sorely lacking based on the results of the dialysis.

In Kaku’s scenario, the human then shuffles sleepily over to the bathroom mirror (which is connected to Wi-Fi, of course), and pop-up ads for his or her needed vitamins flash hastily on a ticker across the bottom of the mirror. Although Kaku’s vision is not here quite yet, the digital age we are living in can, and should, facilitate our health care choices and in turn lead to healthier lives.

Pharmacists are in a great position to counsel patients about digital options that can help them make better health decisions. Notable among these options are digital applications. From monitoring a patient’s diabetes to reminding individuals about their immunization status, there is, as Apple would tell you, “an app for that.”

Some 77% of US adults own a smartphone,1 and as the major mobile carriers race to 5G,2 now is the time to embrace this technology as a health care tool. These apps can not only save pharmacists and physicians counseling time, as patients turn to their phones for reminders about what vaccines they need, but also provide critical information during emergencies, such as the recent measles outbreak that has affected 555 US children as of mid-April.3 In instances like these, apps have the potential, in the future, to deliver up-to-the-minute immunization recommendations.

In this issue of Pharmacy Times®, we provide a guide to the must-have vaccination apps that pharmacists can tap to improve patient care. Although we are still a few years from smart toilets—Micron investigators are reportedly exploring AI toilet technology as I write this4 —counseling your patients on the digital tools that already exist to help them monitor their health is a good first step toward building a healthier society.


References
  1. Mobile fact sheet. Pew Research Center website. pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile. Published February 5, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2019. 
  2. Kaltwasser J. As U.S. sits on the edge of 5G, healthcare ponders the possibilities. Inside Digital Health website. idigitalhealth.com/news/as-us-sits-on-the-edge-of-5g-healthcare-ponders-the-possibilitiesPublished April 3, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2019.
  3. Measles cases and outbreaks. CDC website. cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.htmlUpdated April 11, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2019. 
  4. Shankland S. AI toilets will scan your poop to diagnose your ailments. CNET website. cnet.com/news/ai-toilets-scan-your-poop-to-diagnose-medical-ailments/Published November 12, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2019.


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