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Sun, 01/08/2012

The doctor is online

With a smartphone you can navigate, shoot pictures or find the best restaurant. But the new mobile devices can do something else as well: watch the body.

In the magazine Doppio I read some interesting things how modern technology can help to improve peoples lifes. It is not only about having an operation by a doctor who is actually on the other side of the earth, but about little programmes that monitor your health or that of your loved ones so that you need to worry less about their wellbeing. Here I want to share a few key thought from this article with you.

GlucoDoc can measure the blood sugar level and ThermoDoc the body temperature. These are products created for the growing market of virtual medical care.

With new technology, physicians can control values and cardiac pacemakers and even perform surgery over long distances. In 2006 the Italian heart specialist Carlo Pappone made himself a name as the first surgeon operating a patients heart via telemedicine. Pappone was in Boston, his patient lay in a Milan hospital. Pappone used a joystick to transfer his handmovements via satellite thousands of miles to Italy. There a special robot operated the patient exactly according to the specifications of the physician.

In everyday life, telemedicine makes medical treatment independent of locations and it shall make operations easier for doctors and patients. "From telemedicine we expect a significant improvement in medical care", Wolfgang Joos of the German Society for Telemedicine (DGT) says. "With telemedicine lifes can be saved, for example, in case of a stroke." Especially in rural areas specialized care is not guaranteed. If the country hospital is well connected, for example, with one of the 200 German stroke centers, the patient can receive optimal help even when in a remote location.

Even chronically ill save ways and time with telemedicine. Instead of going into a practice diabetics or patients with heart weaknesses monitor their values via telemonitoring. Data such as heart rate or blood sugar are transmitted to the attending physician. Does a value deteriorate there can be immediate action. "However, from the patient this requires a high degree of personal responsibility," says Wolfram-Arnim Candidus, president of the German Society for Insured and Patients (DGVP). With telemedicine the patient has another benefit. "With telemedicine the stages of treatment can easily be traced later, which makes medical care more transparent".

On the long run Candidus sees telemedicine on the rise - despite concerns from privacy advocates, who warn of the possible misuse of sensitive data. There are already a lot of ideas for telemedicine like walking sticks that are designed to trigger an alarm if the user falls. Or cups, that can remind elderly people to drink enough. Yet, despite digital walking sticks and virtual surgeries for Wolfgang Joos on thing will remain the same: "Even in a future like this, you still need doctors".

You find the original article here.