Technology, Healthcare, and ?
In this talk, I will briefly describe the convergence of multiple technologies over the last 140 years that has led to the powerful platform that we now call the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies – individually and collectively – had a transformative effect on humans and cultures. I am interested in leveraging these technologies for healthcare. It took us about 6 million years to evolve from our closest ancestors and walk on two feet without the benefit of a tail or wings. This required the incredible task of coordinating visual, vestibular and proprioception sensory inputs to execute complex motor actions. In the process, our brains became 5 times bigger, relative to body size, compared with other mammals. We became social animals. We made great discoveries to take care of our own, such as fighting infectious diseases, treating acute ailments and managing chronic disorders. The upshot is that we now live much longer, but as we age, there is a natural decline in our sensory, motor and cognitive competences. How do we leverage technology to compensate for such declines and maintain or improve quality of life? IoT advances in connecting billions of sensors to the cloud, including low power sensing, efficient communication, distributed processing, security, inference, etc., are applicable to many healthcare challenges. I will highlight some of the possible healthcare benefits of technology using the following examples from our work: (i) a platform for hearing healthcare innovations, (ii) fall risk assessment and prevention, (iii) concussion assessment in youth sports, (iv) remote monitoring and (v) spasticity assessment in cerebral palsy, stroke and other neuromuscular disorders. I will conclude with my current thoughts; that technology is necessary but not be sufficient to realize potential healthcare benefits and a discussion is warranted.