A brand new Year’s Resolution: Using Broadband to Get Healthy and Stay Well

It’s that time associated with year again… resolution time. You often hear that people look forward to 2012 for a new start on old habits. From eating better to being more active, all of us tend to see the New Year as a way to make a fresh (and healthy) begin.

But sometimes comfort is a major factor in making our overall health resolutions stick. That’s where high speed and technology comes in. As proven at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, there are a number of technological advances already being used to improve health and health care. And as we all saw in “Back to the Future, ” technology has the ability to make a single truly “fly” – and in nowadays world, broadband provides the wings.

Recent advances in broadband-enabled sensor technology offer the potential for more convenient, and ultimately less-costly and less-invasive solutions. Some devices, such as the fitness trackers (that many of us got because holiday gifts) can give us that will extra motivation necessary to maintain healthy habits. But there are others, through pill cameras to injectable products that, while less universal, are usually increasingly available from your doctor or even other medical professional. The exciting advances just around the corner can boggle the mind.

These new types of broadband-enabled health technologies are generically called “ingestibles, ” “wearables” and “embeddables. ” It’s worth getting familiar with these technology and talking with your doctor about how exactly digital health tools can help you.

Ingestibles are broadband-enabled digital tools that we actually eat. For example , there are “smart” pills that use wireless technology to help monitor internal reactions to medications. Also, miniature pill-shaped video cameras may one day soon replace colonoscopies or endoscopies. Patients would simply swallow the “pill, ” which would collect and transmit images as it makes its way through the digestive system.

Wearables are usually digital tools you can wear, such as wristwatch-like devices that have sensors to monitor your heart rate and other vital signs. Past medical monitoring, such wearables also may help improve athletic performance, track fitness goals or help prevent dangerous falls in the elderly. We may soon see widespread use of smart clothing – or even smart “tattoo” applications – that use skin-based sensors to measure things such as heart rate, respiration and blood pressure.

Embeddables are miniature devices that are really inserted under the skin or deeper into the body. A heart pacemaker any kind of embeddable device. In the future, embeddables may use nanotechnology and be so small that doctors would simply “inject” them into our bodies. Some encouraging applications in this area could help diabetes patients monitor their blood sugar levels reliably and automatically, without the need to prick their fingertips or otherwise draw blood.

Have you used these types of technology to address health concerns? Share your story.

To learn more about how broadband technology support health, read our Ingestibles, Wearables and Embeddables tip linen.

The Connect2Health fcc Task Force can be working to raise consumer awareness concerning the value of broadband in the health and treatment sectors. Learn about the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force.


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