We know this is probably not the first time you’ve heard this; the world we live in has become increasingly reliant on technology. Let’s admit it we love how efficient and mobile technology makes us. However, there is a thing or two we should consider when it comes to how our devices can impact our health. This means that more than ever we should be maintaining a balanced view of both the physical and the digital world. To describe this balance some have begun to throw out the term digital health.
This term has evolved a lot since its inception. That’s why we didn’t want to just put together our tips for remaining digital balanced. Digital health and wellness have quickly evolved into a term to describe the technology that can improve our health. Therefore, we also wanted to include the surrounding trends put in place to optimize our digital health and wellness.
What is Digital Health?
As you might’ve noticed the mention of digital health and wellness actually carries two definitions. First, one might be referring to using our digital devices in a way that won’t harm our health. Before we scare you off, let’s remember anything in excess can be harmful. Additionally, this terminology also refers to the implications that new technology and communications tools can have on how we leverage healthcare services.
For the purposes of this article, we will consider both. Amongst other goals, the industry has determined it will continue to develop innovative digital health solutions. Some of these solutions may include telemedicine, mHealth or wearable technology. This means more than ever, patients have an increased share in ensuring their own health and wellness.
These two areas of digital health are on display to show us that we should not shy away from technology. The industry as a whole suggests we can expect digital health initiatives to help us prevent disease, monitor our own medical conditions, make healthcare cheaper and improve modern medicine. If that wasn’t compelling enough you might even be helping to inform some of these initiatives already. Hopefully, we caught your attention with that one. If not, our favorite industry (yes, blockchain) has begun to play a major role in this area and we could not be more excited as to what this can mean for us.
Healthier Work Spaces
The majority of us have probably become pretty reliant on our computers especially in our workplaces. For many of us using our computers for the majority of the day are probably normal. But, it is important for us to remember that extended periods of time in front of a screen are far from good for our physical health. First, it is likely that bad posture will get the best of us. If this isn’t the case, we might find eye strain or carpal tunnel syndrome will arise. That’s because both are common side effects from repetitive activities such as typing on our digital devices. If this situation describes you, you might have considered a more ergonomic workplace such as a standing desk or a larger monitor that will allow us to sit farther away from the computer. Both options have become more widely used in the workplace to reduce discomfort.
Take a Break
Both of these innovations have likely greatly improved our work situation. While our office situation might be better than ever before, let’s not forget that our mobile devices make it a lot easier to take work with us everywhere. This can improve our efficiency in which we complete tasks; however, this has also increased our expectation that we should be taking our work with us at all times. Every now and again it will be necessary for you to unplug completely. Take a break. Walk a lap around your office or leave your phone inside while you enjoy some sun. This will greatly reduce the strain on your body. As an added bonus it will also make you more attentive once you have come back. By continuing to build these practices into your routine you will be able to sustain your working abilities long term.
We might like the digital world quite a bit. I mean let’s face it who doesn’t? But remember the digital world is just that, digital. This means you should remain balanced in your time spent online. We can do this by ensuring that we are keeping a balanced view of our time spent online and still getting up and interacting with real people.
Blockchain in Healthcare
The implications do not stop there, blockchain can also have significant impacts on the health information exchange and can vastly improve how these technologies can help us to use information better. Blockchain-based systems also have the potential to reduce the costs of current intermediaries in this space. The interconnectedness of blockchain technology will also help to connect all of your individual medical care providers. This would give your healthcare provider a more holistic view of your health and wellness. It would also help these ones to better care for your needs.
We can trust our data will be shared securely thanks to the use of smart contracts. This is already being done with innovations to track gold using blockchain technology. We know some of these concepts might seem hard to grasp at this point in time. But, let’s consider some of the innovations that we can see in this space currently. We don’t want to say cryptocurrency can keep you healthy, but …
Apps That Motivate
Your phone might be getting pretty full with candy crush, tiny tower and 2042. However, we recommend you start clearing some space for apps that will help you live a healthier lifestyle. One of these apps you might have heard about is Sweatcoin. Users of this app are encouraged to live a more active lifestyle by tracking how many steps they are taking. As a result, they receive a reward for these steps. This free application tracks users’ outdoor steps using the phone’s GPS locator and encourages those to take these steps outside. The number of steps you take it then translated into Sweatcoins. With Sweatcoins users can exchange them for coupons, goods, services, donate them to charity or even cash. Although we may not think our data is worth much, investors have thought otherwise. The company has received millions of dollars of funding since its inception.
These apps might not seem that important at face value. However, they do provide valuable information to the application creator as to where people are going on a given day. This data can help to inform useful city decisions down the road including where to build walking paths. This can help your doctor to assess any medical problems that arise based on a more well-rounded background of how you are living your life when a doctor is not around.
A More Holistic Viewpoint
Although the implications stretch a little further. Just think, your physiotherapist can recommend recipes or workouts to strengthen your muscles and you won’t forget since it’s all right on your app. The progress you make will then be collected from the app and shared with your family doctor. With this information, your doctor can help provide you with suggestions on how to further improve your day-to-day habits. Trends have also suggested that one day doctors will also be able to make recommendations on the go, such as walking more steps each day. A recommendation they can make after taking a look through your Sweatcoin history. Many believe this is the first step in a new movement economy.
Learning About Your Genetics
Like anything data is everything. So many cryptocurrency companies have decided that it might be time to offer crypto incentives in exchange for information. Not just any information but your genetics. This shouldn’t come as a shock just think about companies like Ancestry.com that have convinced you to give up your personal DNA to learn a little bit more about where you come from.
Okay, but where does the blockchain come in? Blockchain is a safe place to store the data from billions of genetic data points. The app also incentivizes users with new cryptocurrencies to share their data via the blockchain. Information collected will then be delivered securely to scientists faster than ever before. With more data scientists are able to learn more and discover faster, suggesting to us that the possibilities might truly be endless.
In exchange for sharing your data, consumers will be rewarded with Nebula coins. These coins can then be used to buy back some of the information about your genes. This information will help to inform such things as health records that run in your family. Here is where the blockchain comes in. With a decentralized leger, we can ensure that any data that is sold remains secure. In the event, that a researcher or other member release private data they will quickly be found and removed for violation of the contract. This means that data that can help build upon existing genetic information can be used by researchers who need it and the industry can continue to evolve without putting your information in jeopardy.
Crypto For Making The World Better
However, there is also a social impact that you might find particularly far-reaching. Consider that certain applications have been used to incentivize those with addictions to stop. Some of these apps include Sobercoin and Hayver. Both apps continue to promote sobriety by convincing allowing app users to make frequent check-ins. For those who remain sober, users are rewarded with a crypto token or two. These coins can then be used for coaching or training to be a health coach.
Some of these apps allow for random drug screens and accountability from other peers, both factors that have been proven to help people remain sober. These apps might even see a gamification component in which there are leaderboards and users are given daily goals. This data can then be shared with not only medical providers and insurance providers to ensure they know the habits of those they are providing services to.
Secure Data Sharing
For those of us in the healthcare industry, you might have heard of a little something called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or the HIPAA for short. This act ensures that the data of patients is stored securely between medical providers. This means your data will be shared securely from A to B. Consider its use in the event that you are visiting a specialist for a specific medical condition that works outside of your country. So this doctor knows what treatments you have taken in the past some sort of data transfer will be necessary. Current means of transfer such as a third-party app or a person-to-person delivery. This may not be the most effective (or abide by HIPAA standards). Here is where the blockchain comes into play.
Wearable Diagnostic Tools
One company in Russia had a very interesting take on digital health, which is chatbots, wearable diagnostic tools and telemedicine sessions to help gather valuable information about the patient and deliver it to the patient’s healthcare provider. Some of these wearable technologies have included a device that detects cancer cells in the blood and devices that monitor vital signs while a patient is at home. There have also been innovations in the world’s first wearable peritoneal dialysis device which would allow for a more convenient means of dialysis for renal disease patients.
Perhaps having a device this convenient may sound far fetched. We’re here to tell you that it really shouldn’t. Consider wearable technologies that have already hit the mainstream market like the apple watch? One digital startup decided it was time to integrate its technology into wearables like the Apple Watch to provide health reminders to consumers. This product was initially tested on employees of various tech companies who had pre-existing health conditions. Any user could receive little nudges to make healthier decisions. This includes notifications like drinking more water if your device thinks you are dehydrated or eating breakfast if your blood sugar is low.
Know What’s In Your Medicine
When it comes to medicine we want to make sure what we are taking is exactly what we think it is. Unfortunately, with a long supply chain, it’s hard to determine exactly where the stuff we are taking is coming from. Now enters the blockchain. With blockchain technology, we can now track our medicine from the lab all the way to the pharmacy shelves. A blockchain ledger can track each drug from its creation and record data each step of the way. This will mean there will be full transparency as to who has touched it and the costs associated with each stop.
This idea has become increasingly popular from companies like Blockpharma. The company has since positioned itself as a solution to drug traceability and counterfeiting. Counterfeiting has become of increasing concern as the global black market has continued to provide drugs that look so close to the originals we can’t tell the difference. This can be harmful if these drugs make it onto the shelves. This probably has already cost what is believed to be over $30 billion dollars. With this problem becoming more and more apparent to the consumer it can be hard for us to take our medicine with confidence. Blockchain is believed to help instill this confidence so that we are taking exactly what we think we are.
Another industry that will be drastically changed from the blockchain is the pharmaceutical industry. New apps like the Healthera app will allow patients to order their standard prescriptions from their medical services provider. App users will also be able to contact their pharmacists directly over a private channel for any issues or concerns with their prescriptions. For repeat prescriptions, you can set up repeat orders and reminders for when you should take your daily dose. This is just the start of a new trend of web-based patient customer relationship management.
The pharmacy is one of the most advanced industries when considering the integration between the Internet and blockchain. As a result of innovations and learnings, what happens within blockchain pharmacies can inform and pilot other industries for further improvements.
What Does This Mean For Me?
We know this was a lot of information to take in at once. So you now might be wondering exactly how this applies to you. Well for one, in the event you do require medical services you will now have access to some of the best medical advice that is available. This is because this information isn’t one doctor’s advice but the collective of many. Additionally, you will have confidence that your private healthcare information is only in the possession of those who should be seeing it.
You will also be thankful when you see the benefits of the trickle-down effect of doctors having more free time. The more diagnostics that can be completed through mobile offerings, the more time each doctor will have. With more time, the realm of possibilities for what doctors can accomplish will increase drastically.