IBM study defines futuristic networked devices for healthcare

IBM came out with a study this week that looks at what future and devices, be they PCs, tablet or smartphone might look like.

The study notes that have in the past few years successfully targeted consumers who are extremely health or fitness conscious as well as those who need to be regularly monitored because of a serious health problem. But the IBM study says those devices and services could now go a step further and integrate mobile and home-based devices with web-based resources, electronic and personal health records to help people make more well-informed medial decisions and actually help manage their healthcare situation more proactively.

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From the study, which surveyed more than 1,300 health and wellness device users, IBM scientists envision a number of new devices that could make this next leap including:

• Diet devices: A new generation of devices for dieting will also measure movement, speed and intensity. These devices will engage users if they aren't moving enough or provide a movement task to accomplish. Relying on the help of friends, family and social networks, the devices could alert others to elicit motivation, encouragement or even to "tell on them" to hold them accountable to a friend. These devices will be integrated into tools for monitoring medication adherence, blood pressure and weight for a more complete picture of the user's health.

• Elder care: In the U.S., an estimated 5.4 million people have Alzheimer's disease. In the United Kingdom, two-thirds of people with dementia live outside of a care facility. For patients suffering from memory loss or impairment, devices for establishing location and compliance with medication regimes, connected to a digital pill box will be commonly used. These devices will pinpoint the location of both the user as well as the caregiver, to give the patient peace of mind, providing medication reminders and direct access to caregiver support.