Telemedicine foiling your romantic ambitions?

Rune Mehlum, Senior Manager Systems Engineering Benelux and Nordics, Industry Lead EMEA Healthcare, EMC

Imagine you are a 75 year-old gent and have been single since your best friend and spouse passed away three years earlier. After a few long years of mourning you have met someone who has triggered that same old sense of joy and happiness. You feel enthusiastic and are looking forward to meeting her again.

So you have met this special someone a few times for dinner at the local senior centre and she wants to get to know you better. This is looking promising, right? But back home you have five different telemedicine devices, including cradles, docking stations, local data hubs, cables, cables, and yet more cables and they kind of dominate your living room. It’s clear you have some health issues! Is this something you would want her to see at this point in your relationship? Or could it perhaps influence the courtship, the trajectory of your romantic endeavour, in some way? I think so!

Photo courtesy of eHelse.uia. From Center for eHealth and SmartHouces in eHealth TestLab University of Agder, Norway.

Are there drawbacks to telemedicine?

The benefits of telemedicine are numerous, including keeping patients out of hospital, enabling them to remain in their local community, cost savings (disputable) and feeling safe. However, there are also some downsides - the devices are quite immature, for instance, even though initiatives such as those of the Continua Alliance are trying to rectify some of the associated issues.

So, other than kind of ‘taking over’ your living environment, what are the other important downsides do telemedicine devices and monitors have today? Well, they are typically vulnerable to power outages - whether this is your house losing power due to a shortage in general power delivery or due to a simple blown fuse. Also, if your ISP has an outage, the technology no longer works and as an example, if you happened to venture out of your house to pick up the paper, and have an unfortunate fall on the snow, you could be in trouble.

Driving innovation

It seems self-evidence that issue of the cable mess needs to be addressed - with Bluetooth connections, nearfield communication or similar - and perhaps your smartphone could be the next mobile gateway, but it will take time. One of the biggest challenges to this type of innovation is the speed of the adoption and certification of such devices. Consumer technologies, on the other hand, would have much shorter development cycles - and product releases would be quicker and more agile, leading the way with regards to innovation, sexiness, the general ‘must-have factor’ and other important acceptance factors from the patient population. And this problem cannot be understated!

Thankfully, for our 75 year-old, most women could see past the technology totem, as long as you are the perfect gentleman, of course! However, self-consciousness is not something that goes away readily with age – and so rapid innovation in this area is something that should be both encouraged and prioritised!

We are doing a lot of innovation in this area, here at EMC and, as ever, would welcome your comments, ideas and feedback! Looking forward to hearing from you.