You didn’t know that you could prevent chronic diseases like heart failure, obesity and stroke using the Internet. With tech and healthcare you can.
“Prevention is better than cure.” That’s why we’re encouraged to eat more vegetables than meats, exercise, more than sit, and sleep more than play videogames.
But do these things really help? How would we know for sure that we’re actually becoming healthier with the lifestyle changes we’re making, and not staying the same, or even getting worse?
Juliett Starrett is a CrossFit athlete and the co-founder of San Francisco CrossFit. After giving birth and receiving a blood transfusion, Starrett kept feeling fatigued and getting chronic headaches.
The doctors put her on antibiotics, and thought it was just temporary. But even though Starrett was both extremely health-conscious and fit, she didn’t get better. To help her get through the day, Starrett resorted to drinking eight cups of coffee a day.
Starrett started working with WellnessFX. WellnessFX is a webbased service that combines traditional blood tests with intuitive online data tracking and phone consultations with physicians. Using WellnessFX, Starrett discovered that her iron, vitamin B12 and D levels — indicators of physical energy — were extremely low.
Thanks to WellnessFX’s ability to track biomarkers over time, Starrett changed her lifestyle, diet and supplements to attack her deficiencies. Over the next few months, her energy levels improved significantly, and she could cut her coffee down to a cup a day.
Not only did she feel better, Starrett could actually measure her improvements, using WellnessFX’s regular blood tests and online data tracking, to quantify how her biomarkers changed over time.
Tracking your biomarkers over time isn’t just something for elite athletes — according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, obesity and arthritis, are among the most common, and preventable of all health problems.
By monitoring your blood over time, you can track and stop markers like cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar before they hit unhealthy levels.
Internet-connected health services aren’t just good for preventive care. In 2014, the University of California, San Francisco, began offering patients the use of a miniature wireless device called the CardioMEMS HF System implant.
The CardioMEMS is a battery-free device that’s smaller than a coin. It monitors the patient’s heart rates and artery pressures, and transmits them in real time to the hospital. Not only does it help doctors measure how patients are responding to different treatment therapies, it can tell doctors that a patient’s heart condition is getting worse, even before the patient feels any symptoms.
While having your personal health data online can be convenient, and in some cases, life saving, the one major concern is how secure and private your data can remain once it’s shared. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Health recently experienced a cyberattack, which may have compromised as many as 4.5 million patient records.
But online healthcare might be a case where the potential rewards will far outweigh the risk — the stakes are as high asthey can ever be when lives are at stake.
Today, there’s a lot of talk about bringing our everyday appliances online, a concept that’s commonly called the Internet of Things; Internet-connected refrigerators and washing machines are real products you can go out and buy right now.
The logical extension of that is surely when our bodies join the Internet of Things. With services like WellnessFX, devices like the CardioMEMS, and consumer wearables becoming more adept at tracking our everyday activity.