Believe it or not, there are still some people who think smartphones are only good for updating Facebook statuses and playing Angry Birds. But even the staunchest of hold-outs are likely to have their minds changed as some real health benefits of Internet-enabled mobile devices make themselves clearer over the next few years.
To that end, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi on Thursday is launching its StarSystem diabetes management platform, which connects to iBGStar, a glucose-monitoring app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The StarSystem platform is a web-based resource that provides personalized education and health information in the form of online articles and videos, as well as over-the-phone coaching from experts.
The iBGStar is more interesting, though. It’s a $65 attachment that plugs into the bottom of an iPhone or iPod Touch that can analyze a diabetic’s blood samples for glucose levels. The app features a dashboard that tracks and displays levels over time. Moreover, the user can also email the results to his or her doctor.
Sanofi says the iBGStar is the first such mobile device for diabetes, although other health sensors—such as the iHealth blood pressure dock—do exist.
Taken together, such devices are the first steps toward the fledgling health care revolution, where regular people will have much more personalized—and accurate—information about their bodies. With better data, we’ll be able to detect problems before they occur and more accurately treat them when they do happen.
It’s a fascinating revolution that’s well-documented by Dr. Eric Topol in his book The Creative Destruction of Medicine, which I’m currently in the middle of reading. Topol argues that while the Internet and digital technology have completely revolutionized almost every industry, medicine and health care are still stuck in the relative dark ages. Slowly but surely the industry is being dragged into the modern light of day. When it finally gets there, we’re going to experience some profound benefits to our collective health.
Smartphone sensors such as the iBGStar are only the tip of the iceberg, however. Things are going to get really interesting once injectable nanosensors, which will monitor us around the clock without any conscious effort on our part, become more commonplace.